Most students who do not pass their GCSEs at the first attempt are unable to do so even with the benefit of resits, according to a new report.
Conducted by youth and education charity ImpetusPEF, the study indicated that GCSE catch-up provision is not delivering the required results for young people, suggesting the system may be in need of overhauling and additional funding.
According to the research, only 12 per cent of students who fail to attain an A* to C grade in English and maths at 16 go on to do so by 19 - a figure that only increases to 22 per cent when taking GCSE-equivalent qualifications into account. It means young people are five times more likely to pass their driving test at 17 than catch up on their GCSEs.
These catch-up rates were generally below standard across all students, but it was indicated that students from disadvantaged backgrounds were particularly likely to lose out. Among those eligible for free school meals who do not secure grade C or above at 16, only 17 per cent catch up in English by 19 - compared to 25 per cent of their better-off peers - while only eight per cent catch up in maths, lower than the 13 per cent for other students.
Andy Ratcliffe, chief executive of Impetus-PEF, said: "Resitting maths and English GCSEs should be a second chance for young people to succeed. It should be a sequel with a happy ending. Instead it's normally a rerun, a second chance to fail.
"We need to give schools and colleges the support and incentives to help all young people get the qualifications they need, whatever their backgrounds."