Colleges grapple with exam costs as GCSE resit students excluded from government’s support

06 Nov 2020

This week, tens of thousands of college students have been sitting GCSE English and maths exams in the hope of improving on the grade they obtained in the summer. Considerably more students are resitting this year including those with grade 3, and external candidates without a centre-assessed grade from the summer exams fiasco. Organising this month’s exams has incurred substantial additional costs through hiring extra staff and space, which cannot be claimed from the government’s exam support service because the support excludes candidates aiming to improve their grade from below a grade 4.

Colleges will be out of pocket for supporting these students to get the grades they need to move on to their next step. The exams taking place this week in colleges are some of the largest exam sittings in England in 2020 and will be a trial run for how colleges undertake all large exams in the crucial summer assessments next year under Covid restrictions.

Today, AoC can reveal that GSCSE English and maths November entries were up in more than half (53%) of colleges, with over a quarter (28%) experiencing more than double their usual November entries. Over a third (37%) of colleges have had to move planned face to face classes online in order to be able to run these exams safely. A third (34%) of colleges have also had to hire more space and / or staff than usual to support these exams.

Chief Executive, David Hughes said:

Colleges have managed some of the largest exam sittings across the country this week, with higher numbers of students sitting GCSEs this year due to the uncertainty that students felt over their grades from the summer. Many colleges have been racking up big bills to make the exams safe and keep their buildings covid-secure. It’s completely unfair that they are not eligible for support from the fund specifically established to help with these costs. It would be a simple step for DfE to extend the exam support service, especially as we look towards large sittings for vocational technical exams in January and next summer’s GCSEs and A Levels .”