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GCSE results day – live: Record number of straight 9s as Labour says poorer children ‘abandoned’ by government

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Celine Wadhera
Thursday 12 August 2021 17:23
Nick Gibb Defends Education Secretary As Students Collect Gcse Results M198431 (1)

GCSE results reached an all-time high after exams were cancelled for the second year in a row.

A total of 28.9 per cent of UK GCSE entries were awarded one of the top three grades - 7 or above - up 2.7 percentage points from last year’s results.

Record numbers of straight 9s were also witnessed in this year’s results. The number of 16-year-olds taking at least seven GCSEs and achieving a “clean sweep” of straight 9s - the highest possible mark - across all subjects rose by 36 per cent in a year.

Some 3,606 students across England achieved straight 9s across seven subjects this summer, compared with 2,654 in 2020.

Despite the surge in top grades, an analysis from Ofqual has shown that poorer pupils in England have fallen further behind. The exams regulator said that the gap between students who receive free school means and those who do not widened by a tenth of a grade, compared with figures from 2019, the last time exams were held.

The analysis also found that the gap between white and Gypsy and Roma pupils had widened by nearly one fifth of a grade.

Amid the widening gap, shadow education secretary Kate Green said: “Children on free school meals have been abandoned by this government and students in state schools are again being outstripped by their more advantaged private school peers.

“These widening attainment gaps are testament to the Conservatives’ failed approach to education,” she added.


Number of teens achieving straight 9s across seven GCSEs rises by 36 per cent

The number of 16-year-olds taking at least seven GCSEs and achieving a “clean sweep” of straight 9s – the highest possible mark – across all subjects has risen by 36 per cent in a year, according to an Ofqual analysis.

Some 3,606 students in England achieved straight 9s across seven subjects this summer, compared with 2,645 in 2020.

In 2019, only 837 pupils scored a clean sweep of straight 9s, but a number of GCSE language subjects had not yet transferred to the numeric grading system.

Of those achieving a clean sweep, 64 per cent were girls and 36 per cent were boys.

Celine Wadhera12 August 2021 14:35

Shadow education secretary offers congratulations to GCSE and BTEC recipients

Shadow education secretary Kate Green tweeted her congratulations to GCSE and BTEC recipients this afternoon. She added that those who did not receive the results they had hoped for could contact the National Careers Service Helpline on 0800 100 900.

Ms Green said: “To everybody in Trafford & across the country, receiving their GCSE and BTEC First results today: congratulations if you got the results that you wanted!

“If you didn’t you can get help on what to do next by speaking to a teacher, or calling the National Careers Service Helpline”.

Celine Wadhera12 August 2021 14:52

Skills minister: Private schools performed better in GCSE results because they are selective

Skills minister Gillian Keegan has said that private schools performed better in today’s GCSE results because they are selective about their students.

When asked by BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme about the GCSE results gap between private and state schools, Ms Keegan said: “Some fee-paying schools, it is something we see every year – that’s why we are always focused on the disadvantaged gap.

“One of the things we did see this year is that actually all students did improve overall – that’s great news, and there was stability in the results at all levels, so we’re delighted for all the students.

“But you do see some differences in those private schools because they are selective schools.”

Celine Wadhera12 August 2021 15:08

Keir Starmer: The government has scored a ‘U’ on tackling inequality in GCSE results

Speaking to broadcasters, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that the government had scored a “U” on tackling inequality in GCSE results.

“What I want to see is a first-class education for every child, whoever they are and wherever they come from,” Sir Keir said.

“What we have seen today is baked in inequality – the gap between those going to private schools and going to state schools has got bigger, rather than smaller.

“For Gavin Williamson and the government, on the issue of tackling inequality, they just got a U, and I just think that’s completely unacceptable.”

Celine Wadhera12 August 2021 15:16

School leaders’ union NAHT responds to poorer students falling further behind

Speaking to PA news agency, Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said that while teacher-assessed grades may have had a positive effect on mitigating differential effects of the pandemic on learning across socio-economic strata, it may not have been equally successful for all groups of students.

He said: “Care must be taken not to come to quick and simplistic conclusions for this.

“Differences in results between groups of students are very complex issues and, in the circumstances, will reflect issues of educational inequality which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Although it appears that the processes for awarding grades this summer have had a positive effect on mitigating the differential impact of the pandemic on students’ learning, it may be that this wasn’t as successful for some particular groups of students.”

Celine Wadhera12 August 2021 15:30

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow education secretary Kate Green visited Dorcan Academy in Swindon to celebrate GCSE results with pupils.

Sir Keir tweeted: “Wonderful to see pupils at Dorcan Academy celebrate their GCSE results.

“But sadly, across the country, many children haven’t been given the opportunities to reach their potential – those on free school meals were half as likely to get top grades.

“11 years of Tory unfairness.”

Ms Green also extended her congratulations, saying that she was “delighted” to meet students and staff and to “share in their excitement and achievements”.

“Thanks to the amazing teachers who have worked incredibly hard to award grades and support students,” she added.

Celine Wadhera12 August 2021 15:45

Association of School and College Leaders responds to disparities between independent school and state school GCSE results

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that the disparities in pupils achieving top grades between independent schools and state schools was “worrying” and added that a more substantial educational recovery package would be needed to tackle inequalities.

An Ofqual analysis found that 61.2 per cent of GCSE entries from private schools in England were awarded a grade 7 or above; grammar schools saw 68.4 per cent of entries achieve a top grade, but only 28.1 per cent of pupils at academies were awarded a grade 7 or higher.

Mr Barton told PA news agency: “Any increase in gaps between students and institutions is obviously worrying but it isn’t easy to identify exactly why this has happened.

“The most likely explanation is that pupils at independent schools have in general been less affected by the pandemic than those at state schools.

“They are more likely to come from wealthy homes where digital technology will have been readily available and they are generally taught in smaller groups because independent schools are much better funded than state schools.

“This does emphasise the need for a much more substantial education recovery package for the state sector than ministers have so far provided.”

Celine Wadhera12 August 2021 16:02

GCSE results show girls are simply smarter than boys, says education expert

Girls are continuing to outperform boys in GCSE results, leaving a leading education expert to conclude that perhaps girls are just more clever than boys.

The gap between girls and boys achieving one of the top grades rose from eight to nine percentage points this year. According to a report by the Centre for Education and Employment Research (CEER), the gap is now “extraordinarily large compared with the differences of the past decade”.

Last year, a higher percentage of girls (30 per cent) were awarded at least a grade seven – equivalent to an A – compared to 24 per cent by boys.

Kate Ng has the details:

GCSE results show girls are simply smarter than boys, says education expert

‘Why then does it seem so difficult to accept that females are cleverer?’, asks Professor Alan Smithers

Joe Middleton12 August 2021 16:23

Three trends from this year’s GCSE results

Spanish soars while French flounders

Spanish is already the most popular foreign language at A-level. In a few years’ time, it might also be the most popular at GCSE. There were a record 114,795 entries in Spanish this year - up 5% on last year and up 74% from 10 years ago.

It is fast closing the gap on French, which had 131,887 entries this year.

French has been suffering a slow decline for some time, with entries down 14% since 2011. German also continued its long-term decline this year, with entries down 10% on 2020 and down 37% since 2011.

Home economics has biggest gender imbalance

GCSE home economics is about to disappear, having been formally dropped from the syllabus several years ago. Just over 2,000 candidates took home economics in 2021, of whom 98% were girls - the biggest gender imbalance of any subject.

Other subjects where girls accounted for the vast majority of entries included health and social care (95%) and performing/expressive arts (94%).

Boys made up the most entries in construction (90%) and engineering (86%).

Music sounds a positive note

The long-term decline of GCSE music might have come to a halt. Entries rose slightly in 2021 for the second year in a row, to stand at 39,194. This is still down 19% on 10 years ago, but the future for the subject is looking more melodious than it once was.

The same cannot be said of drama, where entries resumed their descent after a small rise last year. Total entries in 2021 were 61,204, down 1% on 2020 and down 24% since 2011.


Joe Middleton12 August 2021 16:46

16-year-old gets all passes in GCSEs as well as taking on 80-mile charity cycling challenge

A mother has said she is “very proud” of her son, who achieved all passes in his GCSEs as well as taking on an 80-mile cycling challenge for charity.

Joe Golinski, 16, and his mum, MJ, 49 - who live in Stoke-on-Trent, began the 80 miles for 80 days challenge on July 23, in honour of the RAF Air Cadets’ 80th anniversary.

Mrs Golinski has cerebral palsy and has permanently used a wheelchair since 2017, following complications from a spinal surgery.

Both Joe and his mother have been taking it in turns to use his mum’s handbike, which is attached to her wheelchair, with Joe “jumping into (his mum’s chair)” when she wanted a break.

Mrs Golinski told PA: “We began on July 23 and we did a few miles each using my wheelchair and handbike over a few days, before heading to visit family in Dorset and go to a music festival.

“We came home and chilled for about five days and then my bike computer broke, so we had no proof of what we’d done or any means of recording what we were doing.

“We began again from zero miles with another bike computer and we’ve done 60 miles since Saturday, (so really we’ve done almost 120 miles).”

The imminent end of the cycle coincides with Joe’s GCSE results day, who got nine GCSEs - a mix of 4s and 5s.

Joe Middleton12 August 2021 17:04

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