What The New GCSEs Mean – A Guide for Parents/Carers

This year your child will receive grades in different ways. You will be aware from the press that there is a lot of anxiety about this from students, parents, schools and politicians. What is important for you as parents to know though is that we have taken all opportunities available to ensure that we know what is required and that your child has been prepared for the examinations in the best possible way.

On top of this, the exam boards managing the qualifications will set grade boundaries after the exams have been marked to ensure that no student misses out because of the changes that they have made.

Different Grades for Your Child

Your child will receive a mix of different grades:

  • GCSEs in English Language, English Literature and Maths will be graded 1 – 9 (1 being lowest and 9 being highest)
  • All other GCSE subjects will be graded G – A* (G being lowest and A* being highest)
  • All BTECs and other vocational qualifications will be graded Pass, Merit, Distinction or Distinction* (pass being lowest and Distinction* being highest)

The New Exams

The main difference is in the English and Maths GCSEs which have changed as part of government reforms to primary, secondary and post 16 qualifications. Beyond the numbers rather than letters, the main differences are:

  • They are ALL EXAM at the end of the course with no coursework or controlled assessment

The content of the course is more rigorous. In essence it is HARDER, not just in the material being covered but also how the exam is sat: e.g. having to remember quotes in English.

The New Grades

It isn’t as simple as saying that a ‘1’ is a ‘G’ and a ‘9’ is an ‘A*.’ Below is a diagram which helps explain how the grades line up.

New Grading Structure Old Grading Structure
9 Highest possible grade
8 A+
7 A
6 B
5 Good GCSE Pass (Strong grade C/low grade B)
4 Low grade C
3 D
2 E
1 F
G
U U

In this, a ‘4’ corresponds to a low ‘C’ and this is classed as a ‘pass.’ A ‘5’ is classed as a ‘good pass’ by the Department for Education. This may be equated to the ‘higher pass’ of an A* to C.  Only half the students who would have achieved an ‘A*’ will be awarded a ‘9’.

It is important to remember that all grades are important and gain your child a valid qualification, as with the G – A* in the old system.

What About Heath Park?

Your child will receive their results on Thursday 24th August 2017, and will hopefully be very pleased with their outcomes. Students have been told what the grades mean and know what to expect. All students have destinations for September and if grades are as expected, they will move onto these. If there are issues we will be on hand on Thursday and at the start of term to make sure that all students have places to take up to move forward with their education.

This year, schools are measured on the proportion of students who gain Grade 5 and above in English and Maths and the progress all children in the year make in a range of subjects (Progress 8). This latter measure isn’t known until January, when the progress of students nationally has been calculated and then a school’s performance is measured relative to all others.

Next year, students will ensure a similar mix of grades, but most GCSEs will be awarded the new ‘1 – 9’ grades. The following year, all grades will be numbers.