Download the full outcome
Detail of outcome
Summary of our decisions
Following consultation, we have decided that:
- Students taking legacy AS and A levels will have the opportunity to re-sit these qualifications after the final scheduled award, regardless of the subject. These resits will be in May or June of the following year.
- At GCSE will require exam boards to provide:
- two re-sit opportunities in relation to legacy GCSEs in English, English language and mathematics (including linked pair maths GCSEs – ‘applications of mathematics’ and ‘methods in mathematics’), one in November 2016 and one in summer 2017
- a re-sit opportunity, no later than summer 2018, in all GCSE science and additional science qualifications they currently offer. Exam boards may decide to offer GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics but we will not require them to.
- At GCSE we will also allow, but not require, exam boards to offer a single re-sit opportunity in the year following the last scheduled sitting in any other legacy GCSE subject
- There will be restrictions on who can take both the GCSE and AS and A level re-sits.
May 2016 update
We have now published the formal rules which give effect to these decisions:
- Saving and transitional provisions for GCSEs (graded A* to G)
- Saving and transitional provisions for legacy AS and A levels
We have also confirmed which mathematics GCSE specifications will be available to re-sit in November 2016 and summer 2017.
Detail of feedback received
There were 398 responses to the consultation – 388 in a form that matched or broadly followed the layout of the online consultation, and 10 written submissions which were not included in the quantitative data analysis, but were reflected upon within the qualitative sections. 69 per cent of the responses were from individuals, mostly teachers, while 31 per cent were from organisations.
The majority of respondents (95 per cent of those who responded to the relevant question) agreed with our proposal that students taking AS and A levels should have at least one opportunity to re-sit their exams in the specification for which they studied. The majority of respondents (85 per cent of those who responded to the relevant question) also agreed with our proposal that students re-sitting their AS and A levels should be able to re-sit any of the AS or A level units they have previously taken (including coursework units).
The majority of respondents (96 per cent of those who responded to the relevant question) expressed the view that there should be an additional re-sit opportunity for legacy GCSEs in English, English language and mathematics (including the linked pair) in summer 2017.
Responses were mixed to our proposal that, with the exception of GCSEs in English, English language and mathematics (including the linked pair), there should not be a re-sit opportunity available for legacy GCSEs.. Some respondents expressed the view that very few re-sit opportunities were taken up in subjects other than English, English language or mathematics, and others noted that other GCSEs were not required for progression purposes in the same way. However other respondents commented that students should not be disadvantaged by being in a year group affected by reform, and that students in other year groups had the opportunity to resit their GCSEs, so the opportunity should be made available for this year group. Other respondents, while agreeing that re-sit opportunities did not need to be made available for most GCSE subjects, did note specific subjects in which a re-sit opportunity would be beneficial, including GCSE science subject and other Ebacc subjects.
The majority of respondents who commented specifically on our draft General Condition of Recognition D9, and the saving and transitional provisions for AS, A level and GCSE – the draft rules that would bring into force the proposals around resits – noted that the requirements were sensible, as they would require exam boards to comply with the agreed approach. Some respondents noted that the requirements would need to be updated to reflect whatever decisions are made post-consultation.
Other respondents commented that they did not understand the provisions. The consultation proposed that the same saving and transitional provisions, amended as necessary, should be applied to further legacy AS and A level qualifications without further consultation. The response to this proposal was mixed. 40 per cent of respondents agreed with the proposal setting out that they did not see the need for further consultation on the saving and transitional provisions once the position on re-sits had been announced. While 14 per cent of respondents disagreed, saying that nothing should be done without consultation. 46 per cent of respondents did not express a view either way.
Respondents commented that our proposals would impact on persons who share a protected characteristic in several ways, and set out steps that could be taken to reduce the effect of these impacts, including the suggestion that more re-sit opportunities be made available. Respondents also commented on the impacts of our proposals more generally on students, schools, colleges and/or exam boards.
We are proposing to introduce a new General Condition of Recognition that will require exam boards to comply with any requirements we set when an accredited qualification ends.
AS and A levels
We propose that:
- Students taking AS and A levels in the last scheduled sitting should have the opportunity to re-sit these qualifications after the final scheduled award, regardless of the subject and exam board.
- re-sit opportunities in AS and A levels in the subjects for which the new qualifications will be first awarded in 2017, will be available in the legacy qualifications in the summer of 2017.
- Re-sits will take place in May or June.
- Students will be able to re-sit any AS or A level unit (including controlled assessment units).
- Similar arrangements should be put in place for the later phases of AS and A level reform.
We propose that:
- Students taking GCSEs in English, English language and mathematics (including linked pair maths GCSEs – ‘applications of mathematics’ and ‘methods in mathematics’) in summer 2016 will have a re-sit opportunity in November 2016. We are also seeking views on whether these students should also have a further re-sit opportunity in May/June 2017.
- if a student re-sits any of these qualifications, then – as now – they will need to re-sit all the exams for that qualification.
- Students will be able to carry forward the results of the speaking and listening controlled assessment in GCSE English and GCSE English language (including between the two subjects when re-sitting with the same exam board).
- There will be no re-sit opportunities in other GCSE subjects that are subject to reform. For GCSEs in English literature, the final set of assessments in the legacy qualifications will be in summer 2016. For GCSE subjects that are being replaced in the second phase of reforms, the final set of assessments will be in summer 2017. For all remaining legacy GCSEs, the final set of assessments will be in summer 2018.
Our table on the ‘timings for the withdrawal of legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels’