Educational attainment

GCSE resits need reform

Our Life After School: Confronting the crisis research revealed that disadvantaged young people who failed their English and maths GCSEs the first time around, were unlikely to achieve this by age 19.

Six out of ten young people from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t have a Level 2 qualification (GSCE or equivalent) in maths and English by age 19, compared to only three in ten of their better-off peers.

And our Youth Jobs Gap research shows how vital these qualifications are – young people with five GCSEs but missing these subjects are more likely to be NEET and less likely to go to university than people who pass.

This is because GCSE qualifications are the gateway to A-Levels, apprenticeships and employment. Without them, young people’s choices and prospects are limited.

16-19 education is still in crisis. There has been some progress – but the government could do better.

Here are Impetus' recommendations for fixing GCSE resits:

  1. That the government retain its ambition for everyone to attain a Level 2 (GCSE or equivalent) in English and maths by 19.
  2. That the government create an ‘Excellence in English and maths fund’ committing an extra £935 per pupil retaking English and maths, with half of the payment awarded to providers up front and the other half conditional on attainment, to drive innovation.
  3. That the government and all relevant stakeholders commit to developing Functional Skills into a high quality and valued qualification, measured on progression rates and employment outcomes.
  4. That the government test ways to increase the supply of qualified English and maths teachers in the FE sector.
  5. That the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education monitors and reports on key ‘social mobility indicators’ such as the gap in access, completion and progression between disadvantaged young people and their peers entering technical routes and apprenticeships.

During Covid-19, grading and assessment is more uncertain than ever. Read our position on Ofqual's exceptional grading and assessment arrangements for 2020.

Find out more

Life After School: Confronting the crisis

This report reveals the failure to give young people who fail their English and maths GCSEs the first time around with a second chance to succeed – irrespective of their background or their provider. Part of our Life After School campaign.

March 2017

The road most travelled? The 16-19 journey through education and training

This report reveals the journey of 16-19 year olds through education and training: who they are, how they perform, and where they go. Part of our Life After School campaign.

March 2016