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EEF Blog: How do you solve a problem like GCSE resits?

Maths , English
Skills for Life Network

What’s the Education Endowment Foundation doing in the post-16 sector to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students?

That’s the question programme manager Kathryn Davies tackles here, with an update on the EEF’s partnership with J.P. Morgan that aims to generate much-needed evidence of how most effectively to help those students who have yet to secure their GCSE pass grades in maths and English…

“I recently joined the EEF as a programme manager. One of the areas I look after is our post-16 work. In a previous role at the Sutton Trust, I’d worked with this cohort of students on a daily basis. But while the Trust’s focus is on students who are likely to attend Russell Group universities, the EEF is concerned with those students who miss their pass grades in maths and English at 16.

Since 2014, students without a good pass in English and Maths GCSE (a ‘4’ or higher under the new grading system) have been required to continue to study these subjects until they are 18, or secure a qualification in them.

The purpose was clear enough. There is a well-researched link between students attaining good passes in both English and maths and having improved later life outcomes. The more students secure good passes in these core subjects, so the argument goes, the better for them and for wider society.

However, this year’s GCSE data shows the scale of the challenge. Only 22.7 per cent of students aged 17-plus achieved a grade 4 or higher in their GCSE maths. The GCSE English outcome was a little better, but still only 33.1 per cent.

And sadly, it’s no surprise that students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately likely to find themselves in the group without the grades they need for further study or an apprenticeship or a decent, stable job.

The most recent figures reveal that, by age 19, a majority (50.2%) of all students who had been eligible for free school meals had still not achieved a good standard of recognised qualifications in English and maths.

Whatever your position on the government’s reform, it is clear we need to understand more about how we can better support those post-16 students who need to improve their English and maths. Indeed, the need for more and better evidence in this area was one of the key findings of our literature review on the topic.

And that is the important endeavour we embarked on a couple of years ago, in partnership with J.P. Morgan…” 

Continue reading the blog on the EEF website

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