GCSE pupils warned of ‘shock’ as 300,000 fewer high grades predicted

Around 300,000 fewer high GCSE grades could possibly be awarded this week in a “shock” to pupils and their mother and father, it has been recommended.

Exams regulator Ofqual has mentioned a return to pre-pandemic grading means this yr’s nationwide GCSE leads to England will probably be decrease than final yr and much like ranges in 2019 – the yr earlier than coronavirus.

An schooling professional has predicted households could discover the “substantial drop” in high GCSE grades awarded this summer time “hard to accept”, and outcomes day on Thursday “will not be as enjoyable” as in the course of the pandemic years.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research (CEER) on the University of Buckingham, has recommended there could possibly be round 300,000 fewer entries graded 7 or above in contrast with 2022 if grading requirements return to 2019 ranges.

It comes after Covid-19 led to a rise in high GCSE grades in 2020 and 2021, with outcomes based mostly on trainer assessments as an alternative of exams.

This will come as a shock to the pupils and their mother and father, who could discover the grades that emerge exhausting to just accept given what these within the lessons above them had obtained within the previous three years

Alan Smithers, CEER on the University of Buckingham

Prof Smithers mentioned: “The restoration of the 2019 grade pattern in England will result in another record drop in top GCSE grades as the profligacy of teacher assessment is reversed.

“Although the changes as percentages may not look much, given the huge number of entries, they amount to a substantial drop of some 300,000 top grades.

“This will come as a shock to the pupils and their parents, who may find the grades that emerge hard to accept given what those in the classes above them had received in the preceding three years.”

But he added: “It is necessary because the emergency reliance on teacher assessment raised the number of top awards by 437,964, giving many pupils a false picture of their capabilities.

The return to exams in 2022 reduced the excess by 138,597, leaving more than double that distance to go.”

Last week, some 73,000 fewer high A-level grades had been awarded in England, Wales and Northern Ireland than final yr as a part of efforts to convey outcomes again all the way down to pre-pandemic ranges, examination boards mentioned.

But there have been round 32,000 extra high grades awarded than in 2019.

There are nonetheless grade protections in place which imply a pupil will probably be simply as prone to obtain a specific grade this yr as they might have been earlier than the pandemic


Figures masking GCSE entries from college students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will probably be printed by the Joint Council for Qualifications on Thursday.

While conventional A*-G grades are utilized in Northern Ireland and Wales, in England these have been changed with a 9-1 system, the place 9 is the very best.

A 4 is broadly equal to a C grade, and a 7 is broadly equal to an A.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, GCSE outcomes are anticipated to return to pre-pandemic ranges subsequent yr.

The report predicts that women’ lead over boys in scoring extra high GCSE grades may slim this yr, however feminine college students will “still remain far ahead”.

Prof Smithers mentioned: “The under-performance of boys in school examinations tends to be accepted, but it should be treated as a national concern since it indicates that boys are not developing their full potential.

“This is of national importance, because we are not developing the talents of half the population as fully as we could.

“This can only lead to a decline in the nation’s economic competitiveness and ultimately loss of its standing in the world.”

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) – a Government measure – goals to be sure that pupils take English, maths, science, a humanities topic and a language at GCSE.

The Government’s goal is to see 90% of pupils in England learning the EBacc topic mixture at GCSE by 2025.

But the report by CEER suggests “the poor take-up” of recent overseas languages has meant the Government is way off its goal.

It mentioned: “If the Government values learning languages, then it should set up an inquiry to clarifying why it is not happening as was hoped.”

Prof Smithers mentioned: “Without radical change, the percentage achieving EBacc will never increase much beyond where it is now. The idea of establishing this particular set of core subjects appears to be beyond its sell by date.

“I suspect that the EBacc will be left to quietly fade away.”

In the evaluation earlier than GCSE outcomes day, Prof Smithers highlighted the “intriguing” development that non secular research is gaining popularity at GCSE.

He mentioned: “Its popularity could be because the lessons are there, and the exam is there, and it looks like an easy win.

“Or it could be a consequence of the competition to get into the highly successful faith schools and the importance those schools attach to religious studies.

“Or it could be that pupils really do see it as an opportunity to grapple with life’s fundamental questions.”

An Ofqual spokesperson mentioned: “This year is the second in the phased return to normal of national exams. This means we expect grades to be similar to those seen in 2019, the last year before the pandemic.

“Because of the disruption students have faced there are still grade protections in place which mean a student will be just as likely to achieve a particular grade this year as they would have been before the pandemic.”

A Department for Education spokesman mentioned: “This year, GCSE grading is largely returning to normal in line with plans set out by Ofqual almost two years ago, to ensure qualifications maintain their value and students get the opportunities they deserve.

“For students collecting their results, those opportunities will be greater than ever before thanks to our brand new T-levels, alongside A-levels and other vocational and technical qualifications.

“We will also continue to support pupils through initiatives like the National Tutoring Programme, which is benefiting pupils most in need of support, including those in exam cohorts.”

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