ANXIOUS teenagers await the results of their new tougher GCSEs – with numbers awarded instead of grades in a radical shake-up.
Students across England will be checking their phones and laptops nervously ahead of their momentous day.
They won’t have long to wait though – with results set to be published by individual exam boards from 8am this morning.
Traditional A*-G grades this year have been scrapped and replaced with a 9-1 system, with 9 the highest grade.
The new grades were designed to give room for the brightest students to shine and to avoid grade inflation.
They were piloted last year in Maths and English and this year will be rolled out across 20 other subjects in England.
But experts have raised concerns that achieving excellence will be hard to come by in the far tougher exams.
Research by Cambridge Assessment shows as few as 200 students could score a clean sweep of 9s in all of their GCSEs this year.
There is concern that those not on the upper end of the academic spectrum will be those who lose out in the new system, with all three grades 7, 8 and 9 acting as the equivalent of the A and A*s.
This is reflected in a poll by the National Citizen Service published today showing more than two-thirds of teenagers are concerned about the new GCSE grading system.
In total, 69% of the 1,000 14 to 17-year-olds questioned, who are currently waiting for their GCSE results, said they are generally concerned about the new grading system.
Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of The Association of School and College Leaders said the new ranking could have a “demoralising” effect.
He said: “Our concern 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’.
“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.
“These young people have completed demanding programmes of study and we need to find a better way to credit their achievements.”
Education secretary Damian Hinds has insisted that pupils taking the new more rigorous GCSE exams will not be at a “disadvantage”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph he said: “This year’s results will be fair to the young people who worked hard for their exams.”
Changes – including some exams being favoured instead of coursework, plus a broader spread of topics on the curriculum – were aimed at bolstering the qualifications so the UK stands alongside top performing countries in the Far East.
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Last year, when grades were awarded for the first time for new maths GCSE, students sitting the higher tier maths course – which is aimed at higher-achieving pupils – needed to score at least 18% on average to secure a grade 4, while on average, 52% was needed for a 7, and 79% for a grade 9.
Sally Collier, Ofqual chief regulator, said: “Today’s results are the second set for reformed GCSEs and the majority of awards this summer are for new 9 to 1 qualifications. Many years in the making, these new GCSEs are more challenging and will better prepare students for further study or employment.
“Students picking up their results today can be confident they have achieved the grades their performance deserves.”
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