You’ve probably heard about the new GCSE number grades system. Indeed, instead of the traditional A*-G grading system, GCSEs are going to be graded from 1-9, with 9 being the top grade. If you’re feeling a bit confused about GCSE reform, don’t despair! We’ve done the hard work for you and condensed all the need-to-knows into a single post where we have the new GCSE grades explained for you.
How does the GCSE grading system work?
These new GSCE grades exist in the space between the current ones which the DfE is keen to use as an anchor – for example, grade 5 sits roughly between grades C and B. This makes direct comparisons a little difficult because many of the new grades from the GSCE reforms don’t have a direct equivalent.
The bottom layer of grades – from D to G – have been compacted. They are now spread over grades 1 to 3, with grade 1 roughly equivalent to a G, and grade 3 worth slightly less than a D.
Conversely, the top layer of the GCSE grade system has been expanded – grade 8 is roughly equivalent to an A*, which makes grade 9 the new gold standard (A**). This makes the top grades more competitive, as roughly 20% of the students that are awarded a grade 7 or above will achieve a grade 9.
What are the new GCSE grades changing?
The numerical system isn’t the only change. New GCSEs grades are being rolled out across the country, starting with three new core subjects – English Language, English Literature, and Mathematics. These involve new, more challenging content, such as learning key formulae by heart, and a greater emphasis has been placed on the accurate use of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Many other GCSEs are also scheduled to receive new content.
The new GCSE grades bring with them other changes, too. There’s less stratification into foundation and higher tier papers. Most students will take the same test, unless an exam doesn’t allow all students to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities.
These new GCSE grades also place a higher weighting on exams over coursework. This has the potential to put undue pressure onto nervous students, but quick-thinking students that are better at handling exam pressures stand to benefit. It’s interesting to note that, statistically, this is more likely to benefit male students – as such, this approach has been criticised by those who argue that this is a covert attempt to balance the gender inequality in student outcomes.
GCSE reforms are being systematically rolled out across all subjects, starting with English Language, Literature, and Maths. The first results for these subjects will be given in the summer of 2017, and these will help to establish the benchmarks by which all future papers will be graded. By 2019, all subjects will be graded using the new numerical system.
|New GCSE Grade Structure||Old GCSE Grade Structure|
How to implement the new GCSE grade system?
The DfE is keen to use the existing grading system as an anchor when establishing the benchmarks for GCSE grades. Roughly the same number of students will achieve a grade 4 as currently achieve a grade C. Interestingly, they’ve also anchored grade 7 to grade A, which means that the top three grades – 7, 8, and 9 – will be reserved for exceptionally high achievers.
Grade 5 is roughly equivalent to a high-level C, and will absorb students who would achieve within the top third of marks for the current C grade, and the bottom third of marks for the current B grade. Grade 5 is the new DfE benchmark for measuring achievement, which means that there’s a higher expectation for student outcomes. Despite this, anything above grade 4 (a C grade) is still considered a level 2 achievement – a pass.
Why did they change the GCSE grading system?
At first glance, it’s difficult to understand the reasons behind these GCSE grade system changes. There are a number of things to consider when evaluating the need for a wholesale change in the UK’s grading system; after all, it’s been effective up until this point. It’s easy to view these decisions from the perspective of a government that wants to change things for the sake of change, but that would ignore the benefits of the new system.
By boosting the standard from grade C to grade 5, the DfE may be attempting to elevate the UK education system to be in line with global top performing education systems.
A drastic change to how exams are graded also provides an opportunity to review grade boundaries. Grades 7, 8, and 9 offer exceptional students a further chance to shine which was previous relegated to A and A* grades. Baseline assessments will also pivot on the marks needed for grade 8, 5, and 2, with an equidistant amount of marks needed for the grades in between.
It’s a simplified way to view how the new GSCE grades fit into a greater picture, and – ultimately – once it becomes properly standardised, it might be easier to interpret than our current system.
How custom planners can support GCSE reform
The School Planner Company can play a pivotal role in assisting with the GCSE reform in several ways:
- Customised Content: The School Planner Company can create planners tailored to the new GCSE curriculum, ensuring that students have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips.
- Study Aids: Incorporate study aids and revision tips specifically designed for the new GCSE content, helping students to better understand and retain the material.
- Grade Tracking: With the introduction of the new 1-9 grading system, planners can include grade tracking tools that help students understand where they stand and what they need to achieve their desired grade.
- Timetable Adjustments: As the GCSE reform may bring about changes in exam schedules or coursework deadlines, customisable planners can help students stay organised and on top of their commitments.
- Resources on New Content: The planners can include summaries, quick references, and resources related to the new, more challenging content introduced in subjects like English Language, English Literature, and Mathematics.
- Skill Development: Given the increased emphasis on skills such as spelling, punctuation, and grammar, planners can offer exercises and tips to hone these skills.
- Feedback and Reflection Sections: These sections can help students reflect on their performance, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and set goals for improvement.
- Exam Stress Management: With a higher weighting on exams over coursework, planners can provide tips and exercises for managing exam stress and anxiety.
- Gender Inequality Awareness: Addressing the concerns about potential gender inequality in student outcomes, the planners can include resources and information to ensure all students, regardless of gender, are equipped to succeed.
- Collaboration with Educators: The School Planner Company can work closely with educators to ensure that the planners are tailored to the specific needs of each school, taking into account the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the new GCSE grades..
- Parental Guidance: The planners can also include sections aimed at parents, helping them understand the GCSE grades and how they can support their children through the transition.
In essence, The School Planner Company can be an instrumental partner for schools, educators, and students as they navigate the complexities and challenges of the new GCSE grades, ensuring that everyone is equipped with the tools and resources they need to succeed.
At The School Planner Company, we know that these reforms will radically change the way teachers and students work. That’s why we’ve adapted our student planners by incorporating tools and resources that align with the new GCSE framework.
Our planners are fully customisable, allowing you to make them the perfect tools for teachers to help students excel in their studies and develop skills that will serve them well beyond the classroom. Get your free sample now.