What we know and what we don’t – THE FACTS!

EDIT 28th MARCH 2017 – Given the news today -> TES report here about the change to accountability measures this post is now outdated!! I will post a proper updated post soon!!

I‘d like to have called this post .. the truth, the whole truth and … ummmm … what we don’t yet know!

Further to my post last night in which I mention not being able to keep “my gob shut” I have collated some FAQs (and thanks to Emma Bell for suggesting some of the most common queries and proof reading for me!) of what we definitely know AS FACT and what we definitely don’t yet have answers for. Now hopefully this will stop the scaremongering and speculation about what we do know or what we don’t know.

To help you further, I’ve put together the below timeline:

what we know


When is the last exam for the old GCSE?

There is a resit opportunity in November 2016, for current year 11’s. On the 23rd March 2016 Ofqual confirmed that there will be another resit opportunity in Summer 2017.

When is the first exam for GCSE 9-1?

June 2017

How much more content is in GCSE 9-1?

This is difficult to be accurate about and one measure is to consider the extra examination time – which is roughly 1/3 extra compared to the current specifications. Three of the exam boards have chosen to have 3 papers each 1.5 hours long whilst WJEC Eduqas have chosen to have 2 papers each 2 hours 15 minutes long.

Has the exam format changed?

Yes the DFE defined new assessment objectives and included new content to be examined across both tiers. Additionally there is a significant shift in content from Higher to Foundation tier.

Mathematics is the only GCSE so far that has retained “tiering” in its examinations. The difficulty with the papers is “ramped” differently now.

 — 50% of higher targets grades 7-9 (A and above).

 — 50% of foundation targets grades upper 3-5 (D+ to B-).

 — There is a requirement to have a minimum of 20% of common questions in both tiers aimed at grades 4-5.

What is a pass and how does each new grade compare with the current GCSE.

All grades are a “pass”. However Ofqual have published the below which makes it clear that they are hoping that a grade 5 will be considered a “good” pass. MEL – ultimately it will be the labour market and employers that decide what a good pass if we are being brutally honest especially if there aren’t enough people out there with a “5” and above.

ofqual postcard

What grade are schools held accountable for in School League Tables?

Be under no illusions – from 2017 (the first sitting) secondary schools are being measured on the percentage gaining a grade 5. THIS IS A FACT!!!!

This is a massive point that people need to be aware of … our national “pass” rates are going to plummet by about 20% as there were about 150,000 students that would be between a 4 and a 5, of which, roughly two thirds will get a 4 (no longer considered a pass in 2017). The media will have a field day!!


How does the new GCSE fit in with Progress 8? Is it worth 2 GCSEs for the students because it’s double weighted?

Under progress 8 the Maths GCSE is double weighted for the school but the student will only get awarded 1 GCSE. (It is not worth two for the school because of anything to do with the twin pair pilot!)

How are grades being awarded in 2017?

Ofqual will be using comparable outcomes so that roughly the same percentage that are awarded grades at key points/grades in 2016 will be used as benchmarks for 2017.


Is there a Summer 2017 legacy resit?

YES THERE IS .. THIS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED ON 23RD MARCH 2016. See my post here for more information.

At present, students who achieve a D in GCSE Maths are required to resit GCSE when they continue in Post-16 education. What will the equivalent benchmark be with 9-1 GCSE?

The full conditions of funding for post 16 has yet to be published but the government have suggested that post 2019 they intend the benchmark for resits to be set as a grade 5. HOWEVER for the first two years they have said that they are taking a phased approach as per the below.

Let’s be honest though .. there is nothing to stop students wanting to resit if they get a grade 4, or in fact some colleges may choose to insist that some students resit.

condition of funding

What will the university entry requirement at GCSE be (in the same way that many require a C in Maths and English)?

I haven’t seen any entry requirements published yet and it is unlikely that they will publish this information for a couple of years!

What will be the requirement for Initial Teacher Training?

The minimum ITT requirement is set by Government and they haven’t said yet. Whilst there is a minimum some unis have higher requirements.

Students who achieve an E or lower in GCSE Maths need to be “working towards” GCSE if they continue in Post-16 education, perhaps studying a “stepping stone” qualification. Has this been factored in to the GCSE reforms?

Nothing has been mentioned as to what is the “trigger” for stepping stone quals. It is assumed that this is a grade 3 and below definitely from 2019 but the government have yet to clarify what is required in their “phased approach”.

If you have any further questions please add them below as a comment and I’ll try to get answers and add to the post (it may take me a day or two so bear with me!).

Correct to the best of my knowledge as of 6th March 2016.

EDIT 28th MARCH 2017 – Given the news today -> TES report here about the change to accountability measures this post is now outdated!! I will post a proper updated post soon!!

2017-03-28T23:53:38+00:00 March 6th, 2016|Blog|


  1. Anonymous March 7, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Very helpful – thanks!

  2. […] grade’, but that for the first two years, grade 4s won’t need to resist. This post from Mel (@Just_Maths) was mentioned, and I find her timeline particularly useful. […]

  3. Anonymous May 7, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Your timeline is very useful and it clearly shows that legacy GCSE students for the June 2017 exam will have to do 9-1 for the November resit opportunity. My concern is that colleges will only start delivering 9-1 in September 2017 now so it is highly unlikely that the November 2017 resit will be a viable option for learners to take if they did the legacy exam in June 2017. I often wonder how many colleges actually build into their programme the revision needed to prepare learners for this resit as is, or even encourage that it is taken. It is more likely that they run the programme as a full year course with June being the only exam option that they teach towards.

    I do query this legacy option as the Awarding Bodies have not as yet identified the restrictions that OFQUAL have said will exist and ABs will apply since the announcement on March 23rd. While everyone can access the November 2016 legacy resit as per usual, I believe they are very likely to restrict the June 2017 legacy resit to only those who sat the legacy June 2016 exam. There are a lot of 19+ learners who will be starting a P/T course in September 2016 and everyone I speak to seems to think they can access the legacy resit in June 2017 too. I’m not convinced. Why did OFQUAL mention restrictions if there aren’t going to be any? When are we likely to get a straightforward answer?

    Julie Swan stated “We are placing restrictions on who can take these resits. These are to ensure that only those students who need to access a resit take them and those that we expect to take a reformed GCSE, AS or A level qualification do that instead.” The 19+ learners starting on a part-time course are unlikely to have done a GCSE for years so I believe they will be able to do the November 2016 legacy resit BUT not be allowed to do the legacy resit in June 2017 if they enrol on a course starting in September 2016?

    My colleagues think I am crazy to think this is going to happen but it will have a huge impact on planning if It does.

  4. Anonymous August 26, 2016 at 10:20 am

    How many times can you retake maths GCSE before you don’t need to take it anymore?

  5. admin August 26, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Ummm …. Once you leave full time training or education (ie after year 13) there is no requirement to keep doing it

  6. Ms Baldwin September 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Using an iPad. Sorry for tying errors. Post should read. If you obtained an E in GCSE maths should my daughter retake in Novemember as she really does struggle with maths. She has one month until the retake and was woundering if a tutor would benafical for just one month.

  7. admin September 25, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    With an E she should be advised that she only needs to be on a qualification “working towards” a GCSE. Some sixth forms however may insist that is a GCSE and not functional skills (which is the usual working towards qualification used). Hope that helps. Anything would help I suppose .. It really depends on the student.

  8. Kath October 31, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    If a student takes the resit in November m, when will they get their results?

  9. admin October 31, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    About 2nd week in January

  10. Imran ahmed January 19, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Can my daughter sit new gcse maths in end of year 10 (summer 2017). For example she will sit one year earlier.
    Will this have future implications and if she dont obtain good grade can she resit again in summer 2018 (year 11).

  11. JustMathsMel January 23, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    She can but her school will be unlikely to allow this as it is the first grade achieved that counts in the performance tables I’m afraid.

  12. Sue sharred February 7, 2017 at 7:41 am

    My son is taking level 2 maths at college (in his second year) he failed his mock test by one point he also sat his GCSE and failed that he got F grade He is having a tutor as well as college and really want to take both level 2 and GCSE this summer , but the college have said its not allowed, (I would be willing to pay) . Could you tell me is that the college rules or the government, or could I insist that he take both exams ,

  13. JustMathsMel February 10, 2017 at 12:49 am

    Hi, As far as I understand it if they have a grade D there is a requirement to resit a “GCSE” BUT if they already have an E or below the requirement on the colleges is that the student needs to be doing a qualification “working towards” a GCSE which is usually a level 1 functional skills qualification. Most people tell me that if a student is capable of doing a level 2 functional skills qualification they should be able to handle a GCSE but they will know the best route for each student. As you say you are prepared to pay it ight be worth asking them or another institution/school to enter him as an external candidate for GCSE maths. Not sure that helps!

  14. Seb February 21, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    What happens if I don’t get a c grade after the endo of year 13? Do I have to keep retaking or can I stop?

  15. admin February 22, 2017 at 7:09 am

    At the end of year 13 you are under no obligation to retake it

  16. seb February 22, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    So after year 13 I can stop then.

  17. admin February 22, 2017 at 9:32 pm


  18. Gillain February 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Why are some schools entering pupils for old style maths/english gcse? I know of one private school doing this.

  19. admin March 1, 2017 at 1:56 am

    Private schools operate under different rules I believe and don’t really care about performance tables.

  20. Seb March 12, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    A friend of mine wants to know if they fail after year 13 and want to retake again does he have to pay or is it free?

  21. admin March 13, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    After year 13 there is no obligation to be in full time education so I’d assume they have to pay for it

  22. Robina March 22, 2017 at 11:52 am

    My friends daughter did maths early GCSEs ( EDexcel board) last year under old system she got A. Does she needs to resist under new grades as this is what the school is saying.

  23. JustMathsMel March 22, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    It’s compulsory for pupils to study mathematics until the end of Key Stage 4 and additionally from the schools perspective the A*-G qual in maths will receive a zero score on the new school performance measures as the grade A will not count for them!

  24. Andy March 27, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Looking ahead to the compulsory resitters in Year 12 – the students who will have got a 3 this summer. Have you seen anything suggesting what the ‘good grade’ for them will be the following year? If they manage to improve to get a 4 will that be good enough, or will we by trying to raise them to grade 5s?

  25. admin March 28, 2017 at 12:37 am

    Who knows?? Usually comes out about now in the governments “conditions of funding” document for post 16 … watch this space

  26. Andy Wright March 28, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    I have heard that local schools are not going to allow their pupils to sit the Higher Tier exam as it is regarded as too difficult. How will this affect thresholds?

  27. JustMathsMel March 29, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Teachers will make the right decision for their students … tiers of entry is the toughest decision that most teachers will be making in conjunction with parents and students. In terms of affecting thresholds .. its not that simple. Check out some of the recent Ofqual blog posts that talk about prediction matrices ..

  28. Anonymous April 1, 2017 at 10:03 am

    My daughter is right on the boundary of a C / D or 4/5 she is due to sit Edexcel GCSE Maths this summer and the school are still unsure whether she should sit Foundation or Higher paper. Her teacher as of yesterday was saying it is easier to get a 4/5 on the higher paper is this correct ?.

  29. JustMathsMel April 2, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Some people thought this was the case with the old GCSE but no one knows with this new GCSE if we are being brutally honest … sorry I just don’t know!

  30. seb April 10, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    When your 18 is it a choice to keep retaking Maths.

  31. Anonymous April 11, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    My child it resitting Maths GCSE which has always been their most difficult subject (old style) this year alongside exams for AS Levels / BTEC Level 3’s (in which they are doing very well. In September they want to move to a different college to do an Advanced diploma for which they have already been accepted. If they do not get a C this time around is it a legal / funding requirement that they will then have to study the new system to try to get a C equivalent. Really what I want to know is when can it be enough for their other talents to be recognised in order for them to pursue what they want to and what they are actually really good at. Just doing my research for worst case scenario, thank you for any advice.

  32. admin April 14, 2017 at 12:49 am

    As long as you’re in full time education you have to keep retaking IF your college / school decides – best to check with them

  33. admin April 14, 2017 at 12:51 am

    The last thing I heard was that we are still waiting for the updated funding docs to be released … should be any day soon

  34. Safiyyah April 17, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Hi. A student of mine is asking if she is allowed to resit the 9-1 exams she will be facing this year? Also as she did GCSE core science last year, would she be able to resit this as well in November 2017? Both bearing in mind that if she passes and wants to boost her grades higher

  35. Anonymous April 17, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    You can study GCSE maths and English for free, as an adult, until you get a grade c or 4. Grade 4 is going to be recognised as a grade c and education institutions don’t need to change their entry requirement to a 5 if 4 meets their requirements.

  36. Seb April 20, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Do people in part time education need to retake maths or is it their choice.

  37. admin April 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    She’ll be allowed to resit the legacy A*-G this summer but after that it’s only the 9-1 that can be taken in November. The only Nov exams are maths and English.

  38. JustMathsMel April 23, 2017 at 11:01 am

    It is a condition of funding for the FE colleges for full time courses … best to ask the college!

  39. seb April 23, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Is Maths retake free after you leave full time education.

  40. JustMathsMel April 24, 2017 at 12:35 am

    ooh … I haven’t a clue!

  41. Shirin Abdel aal June 7, 2017 at 6:50 am

    I would like to resit my GCSE on November. Where I can go this and what the conditions to do that ? Thanks.

  42. JustMathsMel June 8, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    You can contact a local school or college for resits.

  43. Lisa June 11, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Iv just resat my exam it didn’t go great and it didn’t go terrible I’m just wondering what the percentage pass rate would be to achieve a c? It was wjec maths total 240 marks

  44. admin June 12, 2017 at 12:30 am

    No one knows until the papers are marked

  45. Alessandra August 11, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Hi I did GCSE maths twice and unfortunately failed (I haD issues) this was way back in 2011 would I be able to sign up for evening class in maths and take exam in November 2017? I need it to do social work course.

  46. admin August 15, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Yes you would. Not sure they would recommend a November sitting though as it’s the new GCSE and tougher!

  47. Sam August 15, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    I sat maths gcse in may/June this yr as an adult learner, we sat the old A-G marking. Do we know if there will be a november resit available for us (if we don’t get our C”s that is?) as we sat the old style not the new style grading exams there is a concern that we won’t be able to do the November resit!

  48. JustMathsMel August 22, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Hi, no the a*-G GCSE is now gone … any resits will have to be the new gcse.

  49. Junior August 26, 2017 at 10:03 am

    I got a D in maths as I did a resit in June 2017 and I was wondering will I still need to resit it again. Also is it possible for me to resit it again for the new. Gcse and will I be able to pass it

  50. Junior August 26, 2017 at 10:07 am

    another thing is. how mon the old spec. How many marks was. It to get a. C

  51. JustMathsMel August 29, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    To get a C on Edexcel Foundation it was 130/200 and on Higher tier it was 58/200

  52. JustMathsMel August 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    as far as I understand it .. yes it is a condition of funding for post 16 establishments that you have to continue to resit. It WILL have to be the new GCSE as the old one no longer exists and yes there is a sitting in November. I suggest you speak to school/college and ask their advice regards whether it is sensible to sit in November.

  53. Eileen Sykes October 4, 2017 at 11:38 am

    My Grandson is resitting the GCSE maths in November 2017, is there any up to date revision papers, or books, or even online revision programmes that will help or anyone can recommend?

  54. JustMathsMel October 5, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Revision guides for the specific exam board are worth working through .. unfortunately as its a new exam style there is only the June 2017 papers but there will be lots of “practice papers” produced by the exam board (no boundaries though) that he should be able to get from the school/college. The important thing is to check his answers if he isn’t marking his work he will just be perpetuating his mistakes rather than correcting them. It is important that whatever he does is specific for his exam board as there are some subtle differences

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