Tipping point for GCSE English?

1st September 2014

It that time of year again, when GCSE results have just been published and the prophets of doom are decrying the lowering in standards of the GCSE exams. But this year something is different owing to the surprise drop in the number of young people achieving the A*-C pass rate in English from 63.6% last year to 61.7%.

This is worrying for schools, students and parents alike, even in light of the warnings given by exam boards there would be greater volatility due to fundamental changes that were introduced this year, such as the end to modular exams, far greater weight being placed on the exam and the fact speaking and listening are no longer counted as part of the overall grading system.

According to a recent article in TES, some schools had reported to them GCSE results had fallen as much as 30% below what they had expected. A number of other schools have also reported to TES a sharp increase in those pupils receiving D grades. And it seems these examples have not merely come from historically underachieving schools, but from schools with glowing Ofsted reports and exemplary track records of attainment.

So where has this left those young people affected by this sudden downturn in expected grades? Well, or some it could mean the difference between a C or a D, which is potentially a huge barrier for progression to further education or employment where a minimum grade C is often all that counts. And what about those higher achievers, who may have got an A rather than an A*, well this could be the difference between being accepted at an Oxbridge university or not.

A leading headteachers’ union has vowed to investigate the substantial drop in those achieving the top grades. Brian Lightman, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has advised schools should carefully analyse all of their data, and if warranted, to submit an appeal to the exam board concerned.


English GCSE grades, English Language GCSE grades, Fall in GCSE English grades, GCSE English, GCSE English language, GCSE English results,

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