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As it happenedended1535041473

GCSE results 2018: Only 700 teenagers in England get clean sweep of grade 9s after major reforms - as it happened

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 23 August 2018 15:54 BST
What is the new GCSE grading system?

The number of students receiving the top GCSE grades rose for first time in seven years despite major reforms

The proportion of entries scoring a C or above – or a 4 under the new grading system – increased by 0.5 percentage points from 66.4 per cent last year to 66.9 per cent.

Tens of thousands of teenagers received their GCSE results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland amid major exam reforms.

Last year, the GCSE pass rates fell and the number of pupils attaining the top grades dropped to the lowest point in a decade.

Grades were awarded in the new tougher GCSE subjects – maths and English – last summer. Students in England received the new numerical grades in a further 20 subjects this year.

Headteachers have raised concerns that the new GCSE grading system sends a "demoralising message" to students who are likely to score lower results in their exams.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said it had concerns about pupils performing at the lower end of the grading scale.

"Our concern, however, is over those pupils at the other end of the scale who are taking exams which are harder than their predecessors and who have been told by the Government that a grade 4 is a 'standard pass' and a grade 5 is a 'strong pass'," Malcolm Trobe, ASCL deputy general secretary said.

"That is a very demoralising message to those who achieve grades 1, 2 and 3, and the new system does not work very well for them at all."

See below how we covered GCSE results day

Those in Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to receive their grades in the traditional A* to G format.

The new linear GCSEs – which have harder content, less coursework, and more exams at the end of two years – are now being graded using 9 to 1, rather than A* to G.

Only 732 16-year-olds in England, who took at least seven new GCSEs, scored a clean sweep of 9s in all subjects.


Tens of thousands of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are anxiously waiting to open their GCSE exam results tomorrow. Schools have been given the results and grade boundaries today to prepare in advance for the students arriving in the morning.

Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 16:00

In case you need a quick recap ahead of the big day - we have a handy guide on what to expect tomorrow 

Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 16:30

Grade boundaries

In previous years, students were able to see their GCSE grade boundaries online the day before they received their results.

But last year, exam boards decided to hold off from publishing them until results day due to concerns about stress.

They have taken the same decision this year.

A statement issued by the exam boards says: "Grade boundaries are not issued publically before the GCSE results as candidates make assumptions and erroneously predict their final grade.

"These predictions are commonly shared on social media leading to unnecessary stress and worry for candidates.

"Over 4,000 centres receive the grade boundaries and we request, in the best interest of their students, that they keep these secure and confidential until the results have been issued."

Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 17:00
Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 17:30

Gender gap in maths and physics 

Confidence is a key factor in why girls do not take A-levels in subjects like physics, according to a paper by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

In addition, some young women may be put off by the idea of being one of the only female students in the class, according to the study.

The think tank said that it is not the case that fewer girls study maths and physics at A-level because they are less well-prepared.

Data shows that achievement in the two subjects at GCSE level is similar for boys and girls - but male students are still more likely to take the subjects at A-level, the paper says.

The IFS found that the gender gap in take-up of maths and physics is not because girls do not find the subjects interesting, or because they do not understand or value the prospects offered by a career in Stem (science, technology engineering and maths)

"Confidence seems to be a big part of the issue, particularly when it comes to physics," the IFS said.

"We found that, despite their high predicted grades, about half of the girls in our sample agreed or strongly agreed with the statements 'I often worry that it will be difficult for me in physics classes' or 'I worry I will get poor grades in physics'.

"The figures were about half that for maths."

It adds: "Perhaps more challenging from a policy perspective is the fact that being one of the only girls in a physics class at school or university, or indeed in a Stem job, seems to be a major factor putting off some girls.


Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 18:00
Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 18:30

For many students, preparation for the GCSE exams begin at the end of Year 9 or start of Year 10.

But this week it emerged that children as young as 11 have been sitting GCSE-style tests in school. 

Education magazine TES found that at least three of the largest school exam boards are marketing tests modelled on GCSE exams that can be used in the first three years of secondary school.

AQA, the biggest exam board, produces an English language paper for Year 7 pupils that is designed to be taken over one hour and 45 minutes. It comes with mark schemes covering different assessment objectives.

Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 19:00
Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 19:30

There have been suggestions that the grade boundaries could be lower this year for the new tougher GCSEs compared with the old system.

Last year, when grades were awarded for the first time for the new maths GCSE, students sitting the higher tier maths paper only needed to score 18 per cent of the marks to secure a grade 4 - which is a "pass" under the new scale.

Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 20:00

GCSE result day is not only a big day for students - but also for many schools who are held to account by the government on pupils' results. 

Unfortunately the pressure to do well in league tables can lead to "off-rolling" - where students are removed from the register before they take their GCSE exams in a bid to improve school performance. 

Eleanor Busby22 August 2018 20:30

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