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Education in the media: 25 August 2017

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Exams and qualifications, GCSE results, Literacy, numeracy

Today’s news review looks at some of the coverage of yesterday’s GCSE results.

GCSE results

Yesterday, after two years of hard work, pupils up and down the country were given the results of their GCSEs. This year’s results are of particular significance because for the first time pupils were being graded on our new GCSEs in maths and English.

Our new GCSEs are not only harder than their predecessors – in order to better prepare pupils for A levels, university and employment – but are graded according to a new numerical system in which a 9 is the highest grade and a 1 is the lowest. This means pupils taking a full suite of GCSEs will have received a mixture of letters and numbers for their grades.

Obviously, this being the first year that we’ve graded pupils in this way, it was important that we explained the changes to pupils, teachers, employers and the wider public. That’s why we’ve worked closely with Ofqual since 2014 to produce a range of materials to raise awareness of the new grading scale including:

  • films that have been watched more than 10 million times
  • posts on social media
  • packs sent out to every school in the country, and more.

We also sent information to employers including via the HMRC Employer Bulletin and the British Chambers of Commerce has distributed our materials to all 52 accredited chambers who represent 75,000 business members.

Although there were still some reports of people saying they didn’t understand the new system, it’s notable that very few of these actually involve pupils or parents – most have been written by commentators.

Overall, coverage of the day’s results has been positive, with most outlets focusing on the wide range of success stories around the country.

The results show:

  • Across English language, English literature and maths, there were 51,257 grade 9s awarded
  • Entries in the reformed GCSE subjects of English language, English literature and maths all increased from last year
  • There have been record entries into geography GCSEs this year
  • Post-16 attainment for a standard pass in English has risen from 24.4% last year, to 31.1% in England
  • Attainment in modern foreign languages remains broadly stable, including French, German and Spanish
  • More pupils appear to be taking their maths GCSEs at a time that is right for them as early entries in maths reduced by 64.6%, but the number of entries gaining a grade 9 is at 13.3%, compared to 3.5% overall

Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, said:

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of 16-year-olds found out the results of two years or more of hard work and study. They will now move onto the next phase of their education well equipped for what lies ahead and I would like to thank their teachers whose dedication and hard work has helped them achieve success.

The government's  new gold-standard GCSEs in English and maths have been benchmarked against the best in the world, raising academic standards for pupils. These reforms represent another step in our drive to raise standards, so that pupils have the knowledge and skills they need to compete in a global workplace.

The fruits of these reforms will be seen in the years to come, but already pupils and teachers are rising to the challenge with more than 50,000 top 9 grades awarded across the new GCSEs and more than two thirds of entries sitting the tougher English and maths exams securing a grade 4 or C and above - a standard pass.

As we saw with last week’s new A-levels, we are beginning to see the our reforms translating into higher standards, improving opportunities and the life chances of millions of youug people and helping to fulfil the voracious demand for knowledgeable and skilled young people from Britain’s dynamic and growing economy.

For more information on GCSE reform, click here.

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