Logo

GCSE results day 2017: What you need to know about the new grading system

PUBLISHED: 08:01 03 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:35 03 August 2017

Students sit exams. Photo by David Jones/PA

Students sit exams. Photo by David Jones/PA

PA/Press Association Images

In three weeks time we will see the first cohort of GCSE students decipher a mix of letters and numbers in their results. Here’s our guide to the new numerical grading system and what it means for pupils.

Students sit exams. Picture: Ben Birchall/PAStudents sit exams. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA

What will change?

This summer marks the beginning of the end for the familiar A* to G grades.

Over the next three years, they will be replaced entirely with a scale numbered nine to one - with nine the highest result, and one the lowest.

But for this year, just a handful of subjects will be switched over, meaning some students will forever boast a CV with an 8 in maths and an A* in geography.

What’s the time scale?

Students in this year 11 sitting English language, English literature and maths will be the first to notice the changes.

For most other subjects, including sciences, the new grades will come into force in 2018, with some subjects, such as psychology and business, will go unaffected until 2019.

So the next two GCSE cohorts will have a mix of letters and numbers.

Why the change?

When the plans were first announced in 2013, under then education secretary Michael Gove’s reign, the government said it would more clearly differentiate between students of different abilities, especially among higher achieving students.

It is hoped the new system will create a gold standard qualification.

Though the Department for Education (DfE) said election restrictions meant they couldn’t comment when we asked them for more, they pointed us in the direction of a previous comment, which said: “The new GCSEs will provide more rigorous content and the new grading system provides greater stretch for the highest performers, by showing greater distinction between the top marks.

“Nothing has changed with regard to schools being held to account for the proportion of children achieving a strong pass and we are working with Ofqual‎ to support teachers as we implement the new system.”

So what do the grades mean?

Put simply, nines, eights and sevens will be broadly the same as current A*s and As.

The middle grades, sixes, fives and fours, will be in line with B and C grades.

Twos and ones will take in grades E, F and G.

Exams regulator Ofqual, which has largely driven the changes, has said that fewer nines will be handed out than A*s, so, in theory, it should make landing those top marks more challenging.

It has said a formula will be used, which will mean 20 per cent of all sevens and above will be awarded a grade nine.

On the whole, though, the body says, the same number of students that currently get Cs and above will secure a four and above, so exams overall should not be more difficult.

There is still a U (ungraded) mark.

And what about other factors?

The concerns over how students will achieve has been compounded by the lack of coursework.

These GCSE courses were the first to rely almost solely on exams at the end of the two years, rather than coursework during class time.

The so-called controlled assessments are known to have benefits for students, particularly those who do not cope well under exam pressure.

How has it been received?

With confusion.

Surveys have shown that many parents don’t fully understand the changes, which has sparked a publicity drive.

There was also initial confusion for schools over what would count as a current C grade, a pass.

The latest guidance is that there will be two: A standard pass will be a grade four, with a strong pass as grade five.

Education secretary Justine Greening has said that employers, universities and colleges should regard a C as a grade four.

Despite this, schools will be measured on the number of pupils who achieve a grade five or better in English and maths, and in the English Baccalaureate (a core five academic subjects: English, maths, history, geography, the sciences and a language).

Schools standards MP Nick Gibb said: “The new GCSEs are more rigorous so that young people can gain the knowledge and understanding they need to succeed in the future and compete in an increasingly global workplace.

“A new grading system was needed to distinguish between the old and the new reformed GCSEs. The new grading system also provides stretch for the highest performers by showing greater distinction between the top marks.”

Latest Hampstead Education News

Highgate Newtown’s historic Konstam Nursery has unveiled a commerorative mosoaic celebrating its links to the First World War.

It was a double celebration at Highgate School on Saturday as crowds were treated to two fireworks displays.

Haringey parents will continue to fight for “fairer funding” for schools following the chancellor’s autumn budget.

Camden’s youngsters were in the spotlight at the Shaw Theatre for an evening celebrating the borough’s talent.

Three years after a controversial merger saw Torriano Primary School formed, teachers and governors are celebrating a top-of-the-class Ofsted rating that Camden Council’s education chief said “vindicated” the decision to amalgamate the schools.

A Hampstead school has scrapped a pilot project that saw commercial helicopters landing on its playing fields after neighbours complained it was causing “quite a riot”.

Neighbours are in a spin over UCS Hampstead’s unusual decision to allow a commercial helicopter firm to use its playing fields as a landing pad.

The former headteacher of St Aloysius College has been cleared of wrongdoing nine months after he was arrested as part of a £70,000 fraud investigation at the school.

Primrose Hill schoolchildren are desperate for help uncovering the secrets of their local war memorial.

A Muswell Hill mum has shared her anger at parents temporarily moving into the area to jump the queue for school places, as Haringey Council says it is investigating four cases of school application fraud.

The Heath and Hampstead Society has opposed plans to move a free school into the old Hampstead Police Station – even though the applicants have halved the number of pupils they hope to attract.

A budding journalist and a mentoring champion are two of the students being recognised for their high-flying achievements by the Jack Petchey Foundation.

A pair of Greig City Academy students are among a talented crop of Haringey high-achievers vying for an annual award from the Jack Petchey Foundation.

Seven months to the day after a single winter night saw two young men stabbed to death, Camden’s youth safety task force – led by Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer and Cllr Abdul Hai – last night recommended a series of measures to arrest the alarming upwards trend in youth violence in the borough.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck joined parents and children to protest the sudden closure of Queen’s Park Nursery.

Staff, parents and children at Chaston Nursery in Chalk Farm celebrated as 10 children graduate and move on to primary school.

There were broad smiles and hearty congratulations all round as the Channing pupils received their GCSE results.

Hornsey School for Girls students have excelled once again, despite reforms to GCSE exams this year.

The “resilience and determination” of Parliament Hill School GCSE students has been praised.

North Bridge House Senior Hampstead students have bagged the ‘best GCSE results in the school’s history’, with an impressive 55per cent of all grades at Grade 7 or above.

There were happy faces at Highgate Wood School as students collected their GCSE results.

Students across Camden achieved a strong set of results in the new-style GCSEs, according to the council.

There were some happy faces at Greig City Academy today as 17 students, approximately 10per cent of the year group, achieved a new top Grade 9 GCSE in one or more of their subjects.

Rising to the challenge of tougher new GCSEs, South Hampstead pupils and staff were celebrating another year of “exceptional results” across the board this morning – and the school’s second best ever percentage of top grades (A*/9/8s).

Heartlands High School’s head of school said she is “delighted” with their set of GCSE results.

The phenomenal achievements of Fortismere School students have been championed on GCSE results day.

A 16-year-old Highgate School student who was diagnosed with Leukaemia in April has bagged straight A*s in his GCSE results this morning.

One Henrietta Barnett student nearly 6000 miles to get her GCSE results this morning, and was rewarded with 10 grade 9s.

A set of twins were among the girls celebrating their GCSE results at Henrietta Barnett, as they got the top grades in the majority of their exams.

Didn’t get the exam results you were lookinng in your GCSE results today, or A-levels last week, but want to be a sports journalist? Then don’t despair, Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif says it’s not the end of the world, just look at the example of his intern Toby Miles.

The headteacher of University College School Hampstead has championed his students’ achievements in the creative arts on a record-breaking GCSE results day.

The headteacher of Highgate School has lauded his students’ ability to cope with ‘tougher, fatter GCSEs’ on a record-breaking results day.

No coursework, two years of study, a clutch of Bs and a handful of threes - it’s a tricky time to be a GCSE student.

Paddington Academy students are celebrating achieving the best A-level results in the school’s 11-year history.

Hornsey Sixth Form College A-level results were ‘significantly above national average’, according to the headteacher of the Crouch End school.

The principal of Westminster Kingsway College has champions the achievements of students in their A-level results.

UCL Academy students who received their A-level results yesterday are ‘equipped to be global citizens’, according to the school’s co-principal.

A-level results day at Greig City Academy revealed an array of talent, with Oxbridge bound students in a variety of disciplines.

The headteacher of Channing School has championed the ability of her students to combat tougher exams on A-level results day.

A-level results day started early at Highgate School - some students opened their envelopes at 6AM - as yet another year group smashed records to achieve the best results in the school’s history.

A record-breaking year at Fortismere School has seen students confirm places at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge on A-level results day.

A “fabulous range” of A-level results at LaSWAP Sixth Form Centre has seen students meet offers from universities as diverse as Falmouth and SOAS.

UCS Hampstead bursary students have been singled out for praise on the day the school received its second best A-level results ever.

The headteacher of Henrietta Barnett School has championed her ‘inspirational’ sixth formers on A-level results day.

Westminster Academy has achieved a host of top scores in its International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

Most Read