GCSEs resit too late 'for some students'

Bartholomew School headteacher Andrew Hamilton

Larkmead School headteacher Chris Harris

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TEENAGERS across Oxfordshire are preparing for a second attempt at gaining a key GCSE pass.

Concerns were raised during the summer that changes to the GCSE grade boundaries left pupils across the country with lower grades than expected. More than 45,000 children nationwide are now planning to resit their GCSE English language exams in November or January in the hope of getting better results.

But Oxfordshire headteachers have warned for some youngsters it will be too late as they have already turned their backs on education.

Oxfordshire County Council could not say exactly how many of the roughly 6,000 pupils who sat GCSEs this summer were retaking but it is thought to number in the low hundreds.

Bartholomew School, in Eynsham, has four pupils retaking.

Headteacher Andrew Hamilton said: “Most of those who had been badly affected are really disillusioned with it and don’t believe it will make any difference.

“It’s very frustrating for them and it’s very frustrating for us.”

The school sent 22 papers back for remarking.

Many received higher marks and six saw a grade increase, meaning the school’s percentage of children achieving five A* to Cs including English and maths rose two percentage points.

Mr Hamilton said the school was backing a legal challenge from an alliance of heads’ and teachers’ unions which is due to be submitted to the High Court next week.

Four students at Larkmead School, Abingdon, are also resitting the exam.

The school sent 16 papers back for remarking, with six being upgraded.

Headteacher Chris Harris said: “The resit is only a good option if you are doing A-Levels with us, but there are a lot of kids who now are not doing A-Levels.”

He estimated 40 children were affected and was sure there were those who had made the decision not to carry on with education after failing to get the benchmark pass.

Mr Harris said: “The reality is, if they had taken it six months earlier, 40 of them would have got a C and that’s really tough.

“They have every reason to feel let down.”

The school’s five A* to Cs including English and maths proportion has now risen five percentage points.

At Cheney School, Oxford, up to 30 pupils will be redoing their coursework module.

Headteacher Jolie Kirby said: “We are putting on additional lessons and have put additional staff into this because we want our students to secure the grades they should have got in the first place.”

The Cherwell School, Oxford, did not see a big impact in August but as a popular sixth form which takes children from all schools, is running English resits for nine pupils, two or three more than normal.

County council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said she had feared some youngsters would be put off carrying on at school after not getting a C in English and said it was “terrible” if that was the case.

She said: “I would say to them don’t give up, everybody is on their side. Everybody is fighting, including me fighting my own Government to see sense on this.

“I would encourage people to resit the exams because it’s not their fault.”

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