The GCSE results are in


Last week the media’s attention was focussed on the reformed A Levels. This week it’s the turn of the GCSEs. And that’s because in England, it’s the first time in the history of GCSEs (for English and maths only), that students will receive a numerical grade. Under the old alphabetical system, there were 8 grades awarded. A*-G. Under the new system, students are awarded a grade between 9 (being high) and 1 (being low).

Teachers, employers and students have been struggling to get their heads around the newly reformed GCSE since they were proposed. For teachers, it meant putting in long hours to bring their lesson plans in line with the new curriculum.  For students, it meant studying for an exam with few test papers being available. And for employers, it meant trying to understand what the new grade system means in old terms. If you’ve missed out, here’s a glossary.

Nick Gibb MP, Schools Minister said on BBC Breakfast this morning that the reforms were introduced “looking for stability and consistency across the system” and to rid the grade inflation that’s been indicative of recent years. He also said that these reformed exams would “equip students to enter a more demanding global economy and a global jobs market in the future”.

So, to the results. According to the Guardian, the overall proportion of students gaining at least a C, or a 4 under the new system, in England fell slightly, from 66.5% to 66.1%. However, this could be down to the results of older and younger pupils affecting the national picture (according to examination board officials).

As far as the newly reformed GCSEs are concerned, the percentage of students that received the top grade 9 was 3.5% in maths, 3.2% in English literature, and 2.2% in English language. This equated to around 51,000 entrants, and according to exam regulator Ofqual, required a higher mark than the previous top grade of A*. The number of pupils achieving a 9 grade in all three subjects sat at just over 2,000, whilst last year 6,000 pupils got A* in all three.

Nearly two-thirds of the 9 grades were awarded to girls, who did better at English and were close behind boys in gaining top grades in maths.

‚ÄčThe Independent also reported that the gender gap across the UK has widened since last summer, with some 71 per cent of girls achieving a C/grade 4 or higher compared with 61.5 per cent of boys – a 0.6 per cent rise on 2016.

Overall across the UK, 72.6 per cent of pupils got a C or grade 4 in English literature or above, down 3 per cent from last year. In English, meanwhile, the figure rose from 60.2 per cent to 62.1 per cent. In maths, the overall proportion of entries getting C or grade 4 or above dropped from 61 per cent in 2016 to 59.4 per cent.

So, if the primary purpose of the reformed GCSEs was to slow down the rate of grade inflation, it’s a success. But with half a million students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland achieving the lowest percentage of scoring a C (or 4) or above since 2008 – at 66.3% –  how the students feel about the reformed GCSEs is a whole different matter.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

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The GCSE results are in