Nearly a year ago, Athona reported the changes for the new 9-1 GCSEs was already underway in some schools, and as this year 11 cohort take their final steps towards their exams, the news has come to the forefront of the media.

The then Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced the reforms in 2012, in a move to make GCSEs more ‘rigorous’ and raise standards. The changes were rolled out across secondary schools in phases, to be completed in 2019, therefore this year 11 cohort will open their exam results to a mixture of letters and numbers.

Initially, educators were concerned about the lack of time to implement the changes. However, as the new exams approach concern has grown over the lack of information available to teachers, with teachers left ‘guessing’ at the requirements for each grade. Right now the grade boundaries still also remain uncertain.

Education Secretary, Justine Greening, announced only last month, the new ‘two tier’ grading for the 9-1 system, with a grade 4 equating to a ‘standard pass’ and a grade 5 a ‘strong pass.’ Greening confirmed a grade 4 would be the expected standard for students to avoid compulsory re-sits in English and maths.

The National Association of Schoolmasters and Women teachers (NASUWT) has said that the reforms have created ‘huge uncertainty for pupils, teachers, parents and employers,’ and expressed its concern the system risked ‘failing to meet the needs of a majority of young people.’ They reported this month on the increase in pressure on pupils and the narrowing of opportunities made available to students.

Sally Collier, Chief regulator of exams watchdog Ofqual, highlighted the danger of the new grading system being ‘misunderstood’ by parents and colleges and therefore disrupting the chances for young people to take their next steps.

Greening however, insists the reforms will ‘raise standards’ in line with other top performing countries.

Do you think the new 9-1 system will raise standards? Do you agree there should be a two-tiered pass? Let us know what you think:

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Jemma, is our Project Co-Ordinator here at Athona and is also a qualified teacher. During Jemma’s teaching career, she held the responsibility of Teaching and Learning Leader for key stage 3 English and was a mentor to a number of trainee teachers. Jemma spends her time regularly writing topical and latest industry blog posts and is the main point of contact for our international candidates. More recently, Jemma has been coordinating the training we provide to our teachers and schools.