GCSE re-sits in English and maths have risen by almost 25 percent as pupils scramble to take advantage of penultimate chance re-sit exams before a new grading system is implemented.

Schools Week reports that the latest Ofqual figures show the overall entry for re-sits in GCSE English, English language and maths rose from 68,180 in 2015 to 84,450 in November this year. The majority of these were year 12 students.

Ofqual, which regulates exams, says the sharp increase is due to this month’s retakes being the penultimate chance for students to re-sit these GCSEs before they are no longer counted in school performance league tables.

Students now only have one final chance to re-sit the current GCSE exams, in May or June 2017. After this, students who took the old specifications would have to learn the new content and sit the new exams instead.

The breakdown of subjects shows that there was an increase of 25 per cent in maths and 40 per cent in English language.

Last week it was revealed that schools and colleges had lost almost £6 million in funding this year as a result of new rules around GCSE English and maths re-sits. Under the government’s new study programmes, schools can lose half their per-pupil funding for every individual without a pass in the exams who does not continue studying the subjects when in post-16 study.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw recently criticised the government’s re-sit policy, saying it was not working as ministers would have hoped. Since 2013, all 16 to 18-year-old students who do not already have a grade C in English or maths have to continue studying the subjects.

But Wilshaw said:

“Inspection evidence shows that, for some students, having to retake their GCSE can be demotivating and that attendance at these lessons is lower.”

He added that it “remains unclear” whether GCSE is the “best way of ensuring that students have the English and mathematical skills needed for their intended career.”