Grade Turbulence could affect flight of child’s potential

Head teachers say thousands of pupils could miss out on expected GCSE grades because of “significant turbulence” in this year’s results.

As changes to make core GCSE subjects harder begin to bite, heads warn grades are becoming unreliable and incomparable year on year. So much so that many pupils predicted to get grade C in core subjects may not now achieve it, they say.

Exams regulator Ofqual says “standards will be maintained” despite changes.

Pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be receiving their GCSE results tomorrow, of which one of those is my mentee from Plymstock. If you’re one of those pupils, best of luck and don’t be too scared (even if reading today’s post may scare you a little bit)!

It has already been predicted that English, Maths and Science may face a drop in Grades this year because of the exam changes and changes in patterns of entry. These changes, according to ATL’s Vice President Ian Bauckham, have produced a significant level of anxiety. “It is likely that some pupils whose teacher thought they were on track to get a grade C in these core subjects may well find they have fallen below the new boundary where grade boundaries have been changed,” he states.

These are what Ofqual are warning about and the possibilities that may occur;

1) New GCSEs in Science are deliberately harder, which means that it is harder to hit top grades, so a potential drop in grades is likely

2) Marking of English has been tightened, which again can lead to a possible drop in grades

3) Marking of Maths has been toughened, yet again, another drop in grades

4) More candidates entering for exams early, causing a potential drop on a national scale in grades

5) More children taking the iGCSE, which it has been claimed is easier than an English GCSE. Of course this means that less people are taking on the English GCSE, which can easily cause a drop in grades should those who do take it not perform as predicted.

All of this could well happen in a time when the government is trying to claim that it is improving standards. It’s plain to see that even Ofqual believe that we will not face an increase in grades, but a drop in grades this time round, which is a worrying time for those who are taking their exams this year, but also next year as the pressure is on them to push the grades back up.

We then also need to look at the problem of what this possible drop can lead to. If children do not achieve the required C grade in the core subjects, there is the expectation that they will not progress onto A level or any other vocational course. If less people are getting onto A level, then Universities will have less applicants, potentially causing a shortage of graduates looking for professional jobs, which of course then impacts the economy and can potentially mean more people end up on the welfare system, which the government is trying to cut. Pretty vicious circle if you ask me …


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