In total, 20 GCSE qualifications were awarded on the new 9-1 scale for the first time this year. The headline figures for GCSEs this year are that:
- 69.2% of 16-year-old pupils achieved a grade 4/C (considered to be the ‘pass mark’). This is broadly the same number of pupils who received a C grade in previous years (with 68.7% of GCSEs being awarded at a C/4 or above in 2017).
- 21.4% of pupils achieved a grade 7/A. This is broadly the same number of pupils who received an A grade in previous years (with the 20.9% of pupils who received an A grade/level 7 in 2017).
- Amongst the reformed qualifications, 4.5% of GCSEs were awarded at a level 9 this year.
- In terms of A-levels, the joint council for qualifications (JCQ) outlined that “8.0% achieved the top grade A*, compared to 8.3% in 2017, and 26.4% achieved an A*-A, compared to 26.3% in 2017”.
Concern has been raised over the potential impact of exam reform upon schools and pupils. A recent survey by the National Education Union (NEU) found that both GCSE and A-level pupils have become more “anxious and stressed” since exam reforms were introduced. Furthermore, Amanda Spielman, her majesty’s chief inspector at Ofsted, has spoken out about schools preparing pupils at too young an age for their GCSEs. This comes amid reports that some exam boards are issuing materials to prepare 11 year-olds for their GCSEs.