The vast majority of pupils who re-sat their English GCSEs following this summer's grading fiasco still failed to get a top grade pass, results showed yesterday.
Figures showed that of the 47,800 students who re-sat their English exams, only 36.9 per cent got a C grade or above at the second time of asking.
Last night there were celebrations for the nearly 18,000 resit candidates who did obtain a top grade pass – but many complained they had found it hard to revise having left school. Thousands of others did not take the resit as they had taken up apprenticeships or moved on to college.
Joan McVittie, head of Woodside High School in Tottenham, north London and former president of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "This was another blow to students in deprived areas. We could not get our students back for a second exam. It was impossible for them to get the support they needed to prepare. It's like a rail company cancelling a morning train and offering an alternative at midnight."
The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, the country's biggest exam board, said that – of those obtaining a D grade in the original exam – 32 per cent saw an improvement. The figure is in line with past statistics.
Leaders of ASCL are still pinning their hopes on their legal challenge to this summer's results. They are urging the High Court to order a judicial review of the process, which would lead to this summer's papers being regraded.
Exam boards increased boundaries for a C grade by up to 10 marks after some pupils had already sat the paper in January.