Excellent GCSE results bear testament to the amazing work of teachers in the most challenging education climate.
This year’s GCSE results revealed the outstanding effort of teachers throughout the UK who have persevered through slashed funding, staff shortages and constant policy changes to deliver the highest quality of education opportunities to our next generation.
50,000 students achieved grade 9s – two thirds of which were girls, and an incredible 2,050 students achieved grade 9s in all three subjects. Grade 7 equates to a traditional A, with grades 8 representing A* and 9 equating to a new grade of A**.
The new 1-9 grading system applied to English language, English literature and maths this summer with other GCSEs to follow.
Results were as expected yet it continues to be disadvantaged boys who trail behind
Given that the new GCSEs are intended to reflect the more difficult course content and expectations, it would have been a disaster if the results had been higher than last year’s. The overall 0.6% drop in passes was as expected.
Overall pass rates dipped but only by 0.6% which is safely within the 1% dip needed to spark a review of the exam difficulty.
Since 2002, the possibility of students being unfairly disadvantaged by being the first to sit new exams has been mitigated by applying the statistical leveller known as ‘comparable outcomes’. This is the concept that there should be relatively little change in overall performance at the point when new qualifications are introduced; changes of more than 1% in results from year to year are rare in cohorts of this national size.
Resits are a poverty issue
The Education Policy Institute report ‘Closing the Gap?’ has rightly earned its question mark as it shows that attainment for disadvantaged continues to be lower than average. Since 2007, we have only improved the situation by 3 months for 16-year-olds. At that rate, they note, it would take until 2070 for us to see comparable attainment for students regardless of their wealth.
A last-minute staffing panic for course providers
This year, schools and colleges were more challenged than in previous years because of the grading change from A-G to 1-9. For colleges particularly, staffing levels are pivotal on enrolments, which are dependent on GCSE results – for courses and retakes. This year, not only were the new grades incomparable and GCSE exams harder, the prior attainment of the English literature students was lower as 41% more young learners opted to take advantage of English literature now qualifying as a ‘core literacy pass’.
Teachers in all phases contribute to a learners’ knowledge and skills demonstrated in GCSEs, so if you taught students of any age this year – well done, and thank you.
If you are available to teach this year, please ensure your Eteach candidate profile is up to date.
Author: Katie Newell
Katie Newell BA(Hons) PGCE is an ex-primary school teacher, Head of Maths, Head of Year five and languages specialist. Katie qualified in Psychology at Liverpool then specialised in Primary Languages for her PGCE at Reading. Before teaching, Katie was a financial commentator and is now the Content Manager for Eteach.com and Fejobs.com. Katie feels passionately that teachers are the unsung heroes of society; that opening minds to creative timetabling could revolutionise keeping women in teaching, and that a total change to pupil feedback is the key to solving the work life balance issue for the best job in the world.