This year’s year 11 students will be the last to receive A-G grades for their GCSE results following government reforms. In 2012, the then Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced changes to GCSEs and A levels to make them ‘rigorous and more knowledge-based and to match the qualifications used in the best education systems in the world.’

The change has been implemented in three phases, with students in year 10 already being taught the new GCSE in English and maths. This cohort will therefore be the first to receive a 9-1 grading in 2017, where 9 will be the highest and the equivalent to an A** -a grade which doesn’t currently exist. The second phase will introduce new accredited courses for the arts, science, humanities and languages. Business, technology and media will follow in the third phase.

By 2019, all GCSEs will be using the new grading system. They will follow a linear path with exams at the end of KS4 and offer ‘more demanding’ content to raise standards.

It is thought that roughly the same number of students will achieve a 4 and above, equivalent to a C grade. The top 20 per cent of those who get a grade 7 and above, will get a grade 9.

Unions have expressed concerns over ‘a short time scale’ for schools to implement the changes. In May, five GCSE courses due to be taught in September were still waiting for accreditation. An NUT survey in 2012 showed that teachers and students prefer a modular approach.

Deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe has praised Ofqual’s ‘measured approach’ to the change and agree that the changes will better prepare students for the ‘needs of the world we live in today.’

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