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GCSE Changes Lead to Confusion for Local Employers

On 12th October, the Department for Education released their provisional GCSE data. Here are some key national points revealed in the new statistics:

Less than two-fifths achieved grade 5 or above in English and maths

The proportion of pupils achieving the headline measure of grade 5 or above in English and maths was 39.1 per cent for all schools. This figure cannot be compared with previous years.

Meanwhile, 58.5 per cent of pupils in all schools and 63.3 per cent of pupils in state-funded schools achieved grade 4 or above in English and maths.

This figure is comparable to 2016 data because the bottom of a grade 4 in reformed GCSEs maps on to the bottom of a grade C of unreformed GCSEs. Comparison of these figures to 2016 data shows that attainment is broadly stable, with an increase of 0.7 percentage points across state schools

The average Attainment 8 score per pupil has decreased in comparison to 2016, but this change is as expected from when they applied the 2017 point score scale to the 2016 data.

The average Attainment 8 score per pupil has decreased by 4 points for all schools to 44.2 - and by 3.8 points for state-funded schools, to 46.0.

However, the drops were expected, following changes to the 2017 point scores assigned to grades, caused by the introduction of the 9 to 1 grading system for GCSEs.

EBacc entry and achievement have both decreased

The proportion of pupils entering the EBacc has decreased by 1.5 percentage points since 2016.

In 2017, 38.1 per cent of pupils in state schools entered the EBacc, compared with 39.6 per cent last year. But there has been a large increase of 6.2 percentage points in the proportion of pupils entering only four pillars of the EBacc - up to 43.7 per cent in 2017, from 37.5 per cent in 2016.

This year, 23.5 per cent of pupils achieved the EBacc by gaining grades 4 or above in English and maths GCSEs and grades C or above in unreformed subject areas. Last year, the proportion was 24.5 per cent, so 2017 brought a drop of 1 percentage point.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, had commented following the results that such relatively stable results have been achieved against a backdrop of uncertainty and anxiety caused by the rushed reforms to the grading system and the ongoing resource pressures within schools is a great tribute to the hard work and dedication of the young people and their teachers.

Martin Dudley, Managing Director at Thomas Dudley Ltd, commented: “The changes in the grading of the performance of students is providing confusion for employers who are not linked closely to the education system. It appears that the changes are more focussed on providing comparisons between schools at individual key stage levels than improving the employability of the students. This distraction cannot be good for the students or their teachers and could lead to the wrong outcomes for career choices. Until we have been through the transition period, and the new system is consistent across all subjects, employers will continue to focus on interviews relying on attitude and skills rather than pure qualification comparisons.”

Vikki Haines, Careers and Enterprise Adviser at the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, further commented: “The grading switch, which is part of the DFE wider reforms designed to make GCSEs more rigorous and challenging, has been introduced in a bid to allow more differentiation between students, particularly among the brightest. The government has said that a grade 4 will be considered a standard pass, and a 5 a ‘strong’ pass. Students who score at 4 will not have to continue studying Maths and English after age 16, but schools will be judged against the proportion of pupils scoring at least a 5.

“But these enforced changes to the grading of maths and English have created uncertainty for pupils, teachers, parents and employers. Schools were forced largely to navigate the way for themselves largely due to the rushed and poorly planned reform timescale imposed by the Government.

“We ask that before rolling out the new grades to further subjects, the Government reflect on the mistakes of the last twelve months and provide clear and timely guidance to schools to prevent a repeat of this unnecessary anxiety, confusion and increased workload which has added to the pressures teachers are already facing. Time may be the key factor in all this.”

For more information relating to the Department for Education's report please contact Vikki Haines on 01902 912333. Alternatively, you can click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to send Vikki an email.

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 October 2017 09:59

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