GCSE results 2017 will be the first in which students will receive grades from the new ofqual grading system. The new systemwill award students with numbers as opposed to letters on a scale of 1-9 and are reflective of the new GCSE curriculum introduced by former Education Secretary, Michael Gove, in 2014. The new curriculum includes more challenging content with much less coursework than before with grades being mostly dependent on exams.
What does it mean for this year’s results?
Students this year will receive a mixture of both letter and numerical grades as only English Literature, English Language and Maths will be graded on the new scale of 1-9, a further 20 subjects will be graded on the numerical scale in 2018 with all remaining subjects following the same grading system by 2019.
Fewer 9s will be awarded than for students currently receiving A*s in order to reward truly exceptional work. Grades 9, 8, and 7 will be reflective of grades A*-A, with grades 6, 5, and 4 equalling grades B-C - this means that there are now 6 grades as opposed to 4 which indicate a pass - the idea behind this is to better showcase students’ actual achievements.
For example, on the previous grading scale a student who just scraped a B and a student who achieved a strong B grade would both still be awarded a B grade - with the new numerical scale schools, colleges, employers and universities will be able to distinguish between these students as they would be awarded a different number ranking.
Current Education Secretary, Justine Greening, has said that a grade 4 will indicate a standard pass, whereas a grade 5 will correspond to a strong pass. School performance tables will include students who have received both a standard pass, strong pass or above, with schools being judged on the number of strong passes achieved by students.
The new grades will highlight which students have taken the new, more challenging GCSEs and aims to better represent students’ performance with more grades being awarded for a pass than previously offered in the current grading system.
As this is the first year of the new grading system, Ofqual have stated that roughly the same number of students currently achieving a C grade and above will be achieving a grade 4 and above, as well as exam boards using previous results from SATs taken at the end of primary school to help predict the most likely outcome of the of the new numerical grades.