GCSE results are released to pupils on Thursday 24th August 2017
The key thing to remember is that this year’s results cannot and should not be compared with those of previous years.
English and maths
For the first time, English and maths are graded from 9 (highest) to 1 (lowest). These grades are not strictly comparable with the old lettered grades (A*-G). However, the government have said a ‘standard pass’ is a Grade 4 and a ‘strong pass’ is a Grade 5:
“Under the new system, a grade 4 and above will be equivalent to a C and above. This is – and will remain – the level that pupils must achieve in order not to be required to continue studying English and maths post 16. Therefore, a GCSE pass at new grade 4 will continue to have real currency for individual pupils as they progress to further study and employment. Where employers, FE providers and universities currently accept a grade C we would expect them to continue recognising a grade 4.” Justine Greening, Education Secretary (March 2017)
All other subjects will be graded using the old GCSE grades (A*-G).
You might find this video produced by the exams watchdog Ofqual useful. It explains the changes to 9 to 1 grades.
Which pupils will make the headlines?
It’s about progress – not who has the most A*s
In theory, the government’s new Progress 8 measure should mean that schools and news media will be celebrating the pupils who make the most progress. This means that the pupils who make the biggest leaps from their starting points are the real success stories. The leap in question is what they achieved at the end of primary school (Year 6) compared with what they achieved in their GCSEs. So those pupils who have worked really hard for the last 5 years should be the ones making the headlines. A pupil who might have been expected to achieve 5s but actually achieves 7s through hard work and determination should be the one jumping for joy the highest on results day. However, the reality is that this will probably not be the case from those schools and media outlets who are behind the times and are yet to understand this significant change.
In the past, it was not uncommon to read headlines about pupils achieving straight A*s. This year, this will probably not happen. Dr Tim Leunig, the Department for Education’s chief analyst, has openly stated that he expects only 2 pupils to achieve ‘straight 9/A*s’.
Grade 9 is not intended to be compared with A* performance, but this year it will be difficult to avoid because pupils will have a mixture of numbers (English and maths) and old style lettered grades.
Will my child achieve what they have been predicted?
In February, the government announced that English and maths grades would be difficult, if not impossible, to predict:
This is the letter we sent about this to every Year 11 parent/carer: http://www.barrbeaconschool.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/NewGCSEPredictions.pdf
The government’s original blog is here: https://ofqual.blog.gov.uk/2017/02/03/grade-boundaries-the-problems-with-predictions/
In essence, the boundaries are hard to predict because the grade boundaries they will be set based on how the half a million Year 11 pupils in the country perform in these new examinations. As we have no way of knowing how well the thousands of schools across the country have been preparing their pupils for these exams, there is understandably an element of uncertainty in making predictions. For example, someone who we have predicted to achieve a ‘4’ in English may actually receive a ‘5’ if they outperform pupils at other schools. Conversely, someone who we have expected to achieve a ‘4’ in maths but does not do quite as well as the majority of pupils across the country might actually achieve a ‘3’ instead.
Rest assured that we have done everything we can in school to ensure your child is assessed fairly and accurately in terms of their knowledge and skills.
Do not trust any source which claims to know what the grade boundaries are definitely going to be.
What if my child is disappointed with their grades?
In the absence of firm knowledge of the grade boundaries, teachers have been driving pupils to just get as many marks as possible. In the unlikely event that hard-working pupils fall short of the grades they need for their next step, they will be able to speak with staff on results day about the appropriate course of action.
Government Update – 20th June 2017
The government have issued this guidance for parents/carers: