UK Think Tank: Make Schools Pay FEs for Failing GCSE Results


Think tank British Policy Exchange has published a report proposing that the schools of students getting a failing grade in their Math and English GCSE exams should pay a fee to fund the re-taking of exams in further education (FE) colleges of England.

According to Policy Exchange, FE colleges generally have students that re-take GCSE exams and are faced with budget pressures. The right-leaning tank says that FE schools accept five times more students who re-take English compared to conventional schools. As for the math exam, FE colleges take on six times as many remedial students as other schools.

“Hundreds of thousands of students who received their GCSEs last week will have to retake English and maths and most of these students will attend a further education college,” the report says.

Report author Natasha Porter highlighted the present day injustice their proposal aims to address:

“It is unfair for some schools to pass the buck to FE colleges who are already facing extreme funding pressures to fix a problem they have not caused themselves. “To recognise the additional burden on FE colleges and shoulder more responsibility, schools should cough up and pay a re-sit levy.”

BPE’s proposal states that schools of students who get a grade lower than C in their GCSEs should pay a levy (estimated at £500 per student) that would then be passed on to FE colleges. Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) criticized the proposal because he thinks it would cause more serious problems.

“A resit levy would potentially worsen this situation,” Lightman said. “The solution is for the Government to increase the level of funding to all institutions which are being required to deliver this additional post-16 education provision.”

A Department of Education spokesperson spoke against the exam penalty as well:

“Post-16 funding is already allocated on a per pupil basis, and we already provide an extra £480 per student, per subject for all those with GCSE English or maths below grade C,” he said.

Christine Blower, the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, commented that the proposal penalizes secondary schools without necessarily making things better for FE colleges:

“The answer is not to rob Peter to pay Paul but to fund all schools and colleges properly,” she argued.

According to the Telegraph, the levy would apply to students who fail to get a C and get “a negative score below a certain level” based on newly-introduced accountability standards. Students with special needs or disabilities would be excluded.

The report also states that students with improved standards should also be exempted from the exam failure penalty as should students who have attended school only for a short time.