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”.
While there was once again much in the media about the year-on-year changes regarding A-level and GCSE grades, we would warn governors and trustees not to read too much into this data. In particular, it can be unhelpful to draw too many comparisons between the results of reformed qualifications and those of unreformed qualifications from previous years.
Ensuring that senior leaders are factoring pupil mental and physical wellbeing into exam preparation, and that (rather than preparing for qualifications throughout their school career) pupils have access to a rich and varied curriculum, is an important part of the governing board’s role.