Abolish A* – G at GCSE

GCSEs in their current form are to be scrapped, and new GCSEs introduced in 2015. At the moment, students can take ‘modular’ exams, exams as they progress through the two year course.  Under the new system, students will take an exam at the end of the two years.

One of the organisations that operates GCSE exams has suggested that students are no longer awarded a grade A* – G, but are given a point score instead.  This, the organisation claims, will solve the problem of students getting quite different marks, but the same grade.  It is also claimed that it will reduce the current focus in schools on moving students from a C to a D grade, to do well in School and College Performance Tables. The jury is out as to whether a move to points instead of grades would be a good idea.

What has this got to do with choosing a secondary school?

  • Because of the way they are currently measured in School and College Performance Tables, schools do have to focus on students who are likely to get a C grade. It is important therefore to find out if pupils above and below the C grade are being challenged. In the School and College Performance Tables, if you research your local authority, you can find out how well high, middle, and low attainers do in English and mathematics GCSEs compared to the national average.  The school you are considering for your child should do equally well for all groups of pupils. 
  • When you are considering a school for your child, it is important to find out about grouping arrangements and allocation of teachers, particularly if your child is likely to be a pupil who will achieve above or below a C grade in English and mathematics. It is sometimes the case that schools give the best teachers to the pupils who are on the C/D borderline.
  • Schools allocate a lot of resources, extra classes, etc in Year 11 to pupils so they move from a D to a C grade in English and mathematics.  It is worth finding out about these extra opportunities, but also getting reassurance that the school works to move students across all grade boundaries.

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