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DfE brings in minimum teaching hours for GCSE resits

Sixth forms will have to teach pupils who failed their English and maths GCSE for a minimum of three to four hours a week or risk losing funding, the government has said.

The divisive “condition of funding” policy, introduced in 2014, means schools and colleges must help students who failed to achieve a pass – grade 4 or above – to retake their GCSEs, or else risk losing funding.

Department for Education rules did not previously stipulate a minimum number of teaching hours for resit students.

But from September 2024, full-time resit students will be “expected” to study at least three hours per week for English and four hours for maths, with part-time students studying on a pro-rata basis.

This study should be “stand-alone, whole-class, in-person teaching, with any additional support, such as small group tuition or online support, supplementary to these minimum classroom hours”, according to the new rules.

Rule will be strict from 2025

The minimum hours rule will only be an “expectation” in 2024-25 to “reflect that despite best efforts not all institutions may be able to meet this from as early as September 2024”.

But it will become a strict rule from 2025-26 from which point funding reductions will be made in cases of non-compliance.

Most resit students attend further education institutions, but some study in school sixth forms or sixth form colleges.

The change was announced as the DfE confirmed a 1.89 per cent increase to 16 to 18 funding rates for the next academic year.

Schools Week understands the DfE had become concerned schools and colleges had moved away from offering these sorts of teaching hours after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Department said minimum classroom teaching hours “reflect the established practice noted across institutions pre-pandemic”.

 “We know that many settings are already meeting the minimum hours or are on a journey back towards this. Our amendments will ensure that this progress is consistent across the country, so that all students receive a standard number of taught hours.”

DfE also phases out ‘tolerance’ threshold

The government has also announced it will phase out a “tolerance” rule, the threshold at which it starts to remove funding for pupils who do not continue to study the subjects.

At present, schools and colleges face a funding reduction if more than 5 per cent of students who should be re-taking their GCSEs are not doing so. Funding is removed for each student above the tolerance level at half the national funding rate.

Officials announced this week that they will change the tolerance to 2.5 per cent in the academic year 2025-26, which will impact funding allocations in the 2027-28 academic year.

The tolerance will then be scrapped altogether in the academic year 2026-27, which impacts 2028-29 allocations.

Schools Week understands the DfE drew up the plans after becoming concerned at rising rates of non-compliance.

“The aim of removing the tolerance is to support as many students as possible to achieve a level 2 English and maths qualification.”

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