Schools release first results of new look GCSEs

Ben Jeffries Influencer 2

Picture: Weald of Kent students collect their results

The tests were taken by hundreds of students across Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge in their final compulsory year of secondary school.

For the first time, almost all results were graded 9 to 1, in a government move to replace the A* to G system. A grade 4 is seen as a standard pass and grade 5 a good pass with performances only in the very top tier being rewarded with a grade 9.

This has seen grade boundaries adjusted for some subjects and follows on from English and mathematics papers being made harder to pass.

Sean McQuillan, principal of St Gregory’s Catholic School, said: ‘It has been stressful over the past two years for students and staff, mainly due to the unknowns relating to the new exams.

‘It will take some time before the changes settle down and staff have a more accurate basis for gauging student progress. It will be helpful when we can see the broader national picture of the impact of the changes.’

Michael Crow, deputy headteacher of Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys, said: ‘The new GCSE syllabi and examinations were a challenge that our students and teachers have risen to.

‘There was more content to learn, coursework was removed from the vast majority of subjects and exams included more challenging questions designed to challenge students’ metacognition.

‘Our boys have performed very well and the new grade 9 has allowed many of them to demonstrate their academic abilities well.’

Instead of the traditional five A* to C including mathematics and English benchmark for GCSE performance, schools are now increasingly looking at Progress 8 scores, which monitor a child’s progress from the end of primary to the end of Year 11.

These are still being calculated and will offer a comparison between schools when they are released by the Department for Education this winter.

Kevin Courtney, of the National Education Union, said: ‘This year it has been impossible for teachers to predict their students’ results because of a lack of certainty in the new 9 to 1 grade boundaries.

‘By design, success is being rationed and fewer people have received the top grade of a 9 than used to receive an A*.

‘We are already hearing that students who were hoping for the highest grade have been disappointed to receive an 8, as they no longer see themselves as one of the highest attainers.’

Retaking exams and alternative options

EXAMS in GCSE mathematics, English language and English literature can be retaken in November. For other subjects students, would need to wait until the following June.

For many students taking A levels is the next step after GCSEs but other types of qualification are available at this stage. Two of these are:

BTECs: This is a vocational qualification which teaches skills through practical, work-related activities and allows students to apply what they have learned.

Apprenticeships: A choice that is growing in popularity, apprenticeships are being considered as an alternative to both university and A levels. This offers an opportunity to earn and learn in a workplace environment.

Round up: Students collect grades after tough two years

THE top grade 9 was achieved by 7 per cent of entries at Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, more than double the national proportion. Cllr Roger Gough, portfolio holder for education at Kent County Council, visited the secondary on results day.

Following impressive A level results, where nearly 20 per cent of grades awarded the top A* mark, Kent College is celebrating encouraging GCSE results. Nearly 50 per cent of girls achieved an average grade of A*, A, or equivalent in all of their subjects. And 27 per cent of the grades under the new system were awarded the coveted grade 9. Julie Lodrick, headmistress, said: ‘I am delighted with the results, especially in light of the new reformed exams.’

There was further success at Beacon Academy where 74 per cent of students achieved both English and mathematics at grades 9 to 4 and 55 per cent achieved English and mathematics at grades 9 to 5. Anna Robinson, headteacher, said: ‘These exceptional results for our students will be widely celebrated throughout our school community.’

Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys had one student achieve nine grade 9 results and 98 per cent of students achieve five GCSEs, including English and mathematics, at grade 4 or above.

Down the road, Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School saw 26 pupils attain five or more grade 9 results. Richard Smith, assistant headteacher, said: ‘We are ecstatic with the performance of our pupils and how they have risen to the demands of the new, challenging 9 to 1 GCSEs.’

At St Gregory’s Catholic School 80 per cent achieved a pass in English and 70 per cent a pass in mathematics.

At Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge, 58 per cent of students taking the new style GCSEs gained a top grade of 9 to 7. It is the final results day for retiring headteacher Maureen Johnson who thanked students and staff for their effort.

And Hillview School for Girls saw 64 per cent achieve a grade 4 in both mathematics and English. Hilary Burkett, headteacher, said: ‘The last couple of years have brought significant changes to specifications and our curriculum but our staff and students have embraced these challenges knowing that all of the learners at Hillview can achieve.’

The Hayesbrook School saw 42 per cent of grades at 5 to 9 or A* to B. Principal, Daniel Hatley said: ‘I am delighted to be able to congratulate so many boys on their considerable and well deserved achievements.’

Neighbouring The Judd School announced more than half of all entries were graded A*, 8 or 9 for a record fifth year in succession.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter