The Compulsory Approach to GCSE Maths and English Retakes

Since September 2013 any students who didn’t achieve a C or above in their maths and English GCSE’s were made to study it until they passed up to the age of 18.

Grade C or above

I wonder if this the most effective way of upping the ante.  Perhaps there’s more that could be done, by altering the approach to achieve a more successful result. Some colleges have reported huge increases in students resitting their exams, as much as 50% more.  So why is this and how can they change the system so that it is an effective one.

It is very probable that students at school who aren’t on for a sure C or above require more support while they’re there.  More experienced teacher are required for such a task to help students develop their skills and confidence.  I’m always reading about teachers’ workload being unbearable and teacher-friends of mine find themselves in a constant fire-fighting battle, which isn’t really the way it should be. Teachers themselves clearly need more support from above them and with them, to be stronger and overcome such weaknesses in the education system. For example the budgets that are being poured into kids having to stay on until they’re 18 could be used while at school for extra support.

From reading some students’ chat rooms they’re clearly and quite rightly so getting the fear of not being able to get a grade C, and spending the next year or two retaking. However that fear drives most students to try harder than perhaps they may have done if the law were not in place.

I can’t help feeling though for those who genuinely really struggle with either or both of the subjects, whether it be a weak subject understanding, dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD, dyspraxia, lack of confidence, family problems, mental illness, lack of support, the list goes on, and whatever reason that might be, they clearly require an excellent teacher, mentor and sufficient resources to help them through it with confidence.

So you have the students who fear the retakes and try their hardest to attain the grade they need to avoid a confidence bashing of having to study what you’ve already been doing for the last 2 years all over again.  Then you have the students who don’t give a damn (they have their reasons for being like this too remember), but they are most likely to be the ones that slip through the net.  So how is the government proposing to help these guys? And I mean really help them.

As we know poverty is growing in this country and with poverty priorities change, survival is required and getting a job and earning money can be much more important, even for someone at such a young age.  So instead of having to retake during an entire year, why not introduce the option of summer school like in the States where you can study your weaknesses in that subject, perfect where you went wrong and do retakes during the summer.  Surely that would be more financially viable for the government, and would be less devastating for the student who has to repeat an entire 1-2 years of a subject they’d rather not have to endure for such a period of time, on top of what they’re already doing.

For those who have already been accepted onto a college course or A-levels anyway regardless of not achieving a C, the task of having to study an additional subject or two might just be a mere inconvenience, and may not even have the time or headspace for such additional study so one or the other is likely to be put on the back seat.  Usually university will look at your A-level results for qualifying.  However if you wish to study something in A-levels that requires a C or above in maths or English then a retake it is.  But imagine how much more straight forward things could be if there was a concentrated summer school option?  The thought of having to study during the summer would not be pleasing but a far better option of it being strung out over a longer period of time.  Well it’s just a thought, and I’m sure many education experts would like to pick great big holes in the idea but I can’t help but think that the compulsory retake system at present isn’t quite working how it could be, and has far more potential for effective results and happier students.


2 thoughts on “The Compulsory Approach to GCSE Maths and English Retakes

  1. But you can’t take the retake until November…. So an autumn term 10 week plan looks possible, summer far less so

    • Very good point Peter, thanks. A 10 week plan sounds much more sense than repeating an entire year too. More condensed and focussed. Perhaps doing it that way the students would feel the benefits and appreciate the time limit that it offers.

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