More than 25% of GCSE pupils get top grades following U-turn

20 August 2020, 09:48

The proportion of GCSE entries in England awarded top grades has surged to record high
The proportion of GCSE entries in England awarded top grades has surged to record high. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The proportion of GCSE entries in England awarded top grades has surged to record high after a U-turn meant results could be based on teachers' estimated grades amid cancelled exams.

More than one in four (25.9%) GCSE entries in England scored one of the three top grades this year, up from just over a fifth (20.7%) last summer, figures from exams regulator Ofqual show.

The proportion receiving the top grades - at least a 7 or an A grade - is a record high based on available data following the decision to award grades based on teachers' assessments, rather than an algorithm.

More than three in four (76%) entries were awarded at least a 4 or a C grade in England this summer, which is up 8.9% on last year when 67.1% achieved the grades, data from Ofqual shows.

It comes after GCSE and A-level students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were told they would now be awarded the higher of either their teachers' grade or the moderated grade following an outcry.

A pupil at St Alban's Catholic High School Ipswich, Beth Allan, told LBC News she was "really happy" with her results but that it had "been a very stressful time" following confusion over how grades would be decided.

She said: "There's been lots of policy changes and everything has been happening by the minute.

"There's been a lot of anxiety for everyone, but I think it's all paid off."

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said those receiving their GCSE results today should feel "incredibly proud" of what they have achieved "in the face of immense challenge and uncertainty".

He said: "This is an exciting day and young people now can look forward to taking their next steps, whether that is returning to schools and colleges in September to do A-levels or our brand new T-levels, or taking one of the many other routes available like starting an apprenticeship.

"I also want to pay a special tribute to teachers and school leaders this year who have shown dedication, resilience and ingenuity to support their students to get to this moment."

Hundreds of thousands of Btec students are still waiting for their final grades, however, after the exam board told schools and colleges not to release the results to pupils on Thursday.

Gavin Williamson has faced calls to resign as education secretary following the scandal
Gavin Williamson has faced calls to resign as education secretary following the scandal. Picture: PA Images

The National Education Union said the Government now "must put an end" to the "incompetence" around the issuing of the Btec results.

Dr Mary Bousted, co-general secretary of the union, said: "Teachers know their students better than any model or algorithm and it will be a relief to many that the grades they receive are now a fairer reflection of their achievements.

"To add to the GCSE and A-level fiasco, the decision by (examiner) Pearson not to issue Btec results at the eleventh hour compounds the upsetting and chaotic experience for students.

"Government must put an end to this incompetence and work quickly to ensure every young person gets the grades they deserve to move on to the next stages of their lives."

In total there were 5,182,991 entries for the exams - up by 107,316 on last year.