Pupils set for first Grades 1-9 GCSE results


Teenagers across England will find out this morning how well they did in their GCSE exams.

These will be the first results using a system of number grades instead of the familiar A* to G grades, following the biggest overhaul of the exam system in a generation.

Under the new system, traditional A* to G grades have been replaced with a 9 to 1 system, with 9 the highest mark.

The grade 7 is broadly equivalent to an A under the old system, while a 4 is broadly equivalent to a C.

Three core subjects – maths, English language and English literature – are the first to be tested using the new numerical grading.

The course content for these subjects has been changed too with the emphasis shifting from coursework to exams.

Courtney Barham, a 16-year-old pupil at the Walworth Academy in South East London, said she found the reduced time to prepare for the new syllabus a challenge.

But she is still hopeful of getting good grades because of the extra work she put in before her exams.

“The grade 9-1 exams were really difficult but that was to be expected,” she said.

“The challenge was the amount we had to learn.

“We only had a limited amount of time to learn all of this new content, we only had 18 months.”

Walworth Academy principal Yvonne Powell said preparing her pupils for the new exam system was challenging because there were no past exam papers and also a lack of understanding about the grade boundaries.

“This year has been more difficult in terms of long term planning because my teachers are under pressure to deliver in the classroom.

“In terms of preparation in the time scale I do believe we have done everything we could do.”

The reforms mean new English and maths courses have more content and are tougher generally.

In maths, there is more content on topics such as number, ration and proportion, and pupils have to show clear mathematical arguments for their calculations and remember key formulae.

In English language, pupils now have to read a wider range of texts from different genres and time periods, and more importance is given to spelling, punctuation and grammar.

In English literature, students have to read a wide range of classic literature, including 19th century novels, Shakespeare and the Romantic poets.

Fewer students will receive a grade 9 than would have received an A* previously.

The changes only apply to schools in England.

Education reforms in England began back in 2011, led by then Education Secretary Michael Gove. A review of the national curriculum was announced first, with the overhaul of GCSEs starting in 2013.

In 2014, Mr Gove said the new tougher GCSE courses “set higher expectations”, adding “they demand more from all students and specifically provide further challenge to those aiming to achieve top grades”.

There are concerns that children sitting the new exams haven’t had enough time to prepare – less than two years instead of three – but the exam regulator Ofqual said these fears had been addressed.

Chief regulator Sally Collier said: “Today’s results reflect years of careful planning.

“We have used the same tried and tested principle of comparable outcomes, as in previous years, to ensure that this first cohort of students is not disadvantaged.”

All subjects will eventually follow the GCSE grading and content changes.