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Union hits out at 'ridiculous' GCSE resits after report claims students' motivation 'low'

Policy forcing students without a good pass in English and maths GCSEs to resit damages self-esteem of learners and increases workloads of teachers, says National Education Union

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Policy forcing students without a good pass in English and maths GCSEs to resit damages self-esteem of learners and increases workloads of teachers, says National Education Union

The government’s GCSE resit policy is “ridiculous”, causing damage to the self-esteem of learners and adding to the workloads of teachers and lecturers, according to the National Education Union (NEU).

Responding to the government’s report on Effective practice in the delivery and teaching of English and Mathematics to 16-18 year olds, Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of education policy and research at the NEU, said the report showed “just how much work college teachers and lecturers are doing to support learners who are forced to resit English and maths GCSEs”.

The report, published by the Department for Education this week, concluded providers faced “a number of challenges as a consequence of the characteristics of the student cohorts that affect how they approach teaching and learning for target students”. There were also organisational issues associated with dealing with large volumes of students over multiple sites in largely vocationally-orientated learning environments.

“For those who did not achieve the accepted standard of a GCSE Grade C previously then this apparent ‘failure’ can lead to contrasting attitudes and different levels of motivation to re-engage with learning the subjects,” said the report, adding: “Motivation is low for many students, although there are some who do see this as an opportunity to improve their attainment level and therefore engage more readily with the lessons. Mathematics generally evokes a stronger reaction.

'A ridiculous policy'

Ms Ellis said: “This is a ridiculous policy, causing damage to the self-esteem of learners and increasing the already excessive workloads of teachers and lecturers. [NEU] members also tell us that colleges are finding it very difficult to recruit and retain teachers in these subjects, and that both teaching and the resits are causing huge logistical problems to the detriment of learning across other curriculum areas.”

She said the union had heard of colleges having to temporarily shut down the whole college site to all students except those resitting English and maths to timetable teaching and exams.

“We agree that forcing students to resit English and maths GCSEs is extremely demotivating and that there are far better ways to support learners to gain the English and maths they need for their future careers and learning,” said Ms Ellis.

The government's industrial strategy white paper, published yesterday, revealed that ministers would "continue to monitor and review" the resits policy.

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