GCSE results day: Half a million get their grades amid warning top scores harder to come by under new system

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Tough new marking guidelines for English and maths GCSEs mean just a small percentage of pupils are set to get the top grades.

More than half a million teenagers will receive their results as the new grades are awarded for the first time.

But just two per cent of pupils are expected to achieve a grade 9 – the new top mark – in English. That is half the level who got A*s last year.

Meanwhile about three per cent of pupils are predicted grade 9 marks in maths – compared to seven per cent who got A*s last year.

As teenagers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were waking up to their results, school leaders warned that GCSE reforms were already causing teenagers more stress and anxiety, and this was likely to increase as more subjects switched to the new system.

Top results are set to be harder to come by

Under the biggest shake-up of exams in England for a generation, traditional A* to G grades are being gradually replaced with a 9 to 1 system, with 9 being the highest mark.

English and maths – key GCSEs for all teenagers – are the first to move across, with other subjects following over the next two years.

The grading switch is part of wider reforms designed to make GCSEs more rigorous and challenging.

Ofqual chief regulator Sally Collier said: “Today’s results reflect years of careful planning.

“We have used the same tried and tested principle of comparable outcomes, as in previous years, to ensure that this first cohort of students is not disadvantaged.

Jumping for joy: Pupils receive their GCSE results at King’s College School in Wimbledon last year (Steve Parsons/PA Wire)

“If a student receives a grade 7 today, they could have expected to have received a grade A last year.

“And if they get a grade 4, they could have expected to get a grade C in 2016.”

Ahead of the results, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said reformed GCSEs would leave pupils sitting more exams within a six-week summer exams season, which was likely to put them under intense pressure.

ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton, said: “We have already had reports from members of increased stress and anxiety among pupils this year, and this will intensify next year.

“We know from numerous reports that there is a rising tide of mental health issues among young people and we are concerned the new exams will make the situation worse.”


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