Confused about the New GCSE System?

Pupils in England are busy revising for the reformed GCSEs that will be graded 9 to 1 this summer. Yet, ‘huge uncertainty’ still surrounds how they will be marked, according to a leading teachers’ union (‘New 9-1 GCSE grades ‘creating uncertainty for schools’, BBC News, 17 Apr. 2017).

At sixes and sevens?

If you’re feeling perplexed about the new system, you’re not alone! Exams regulator Ofqual has said the majority of parents are confused about the new grades.

More than 400 parents and pupils were surveyed by Ofqual, with around 70% saying they did not understand the new system (‘Confusion over numerical GCSE grades sparks publicity drive‘, BBC News, 13 Jan. 2017).

Three months on, many parents and students are still anxious about how they will fare in the new system.

This year’s exams

Students began studying for the new GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths in September 2015 and will be sitting exams in the next few weeks.

Seventeen other new GCSEs, including science and humanities subjects, were introduced last September for 2018 exams.*

The remaining new GCSEs, including business, psychology and media studies, will be launched in September 2017 for exams in 2019.**

However, many parents are confused about how the numeric grades will compare and how they can make sure their children get the results they need in the rigorous new system.

Stacking up the numbers

Under the new system, grade 9, the highest grade available, will be awarded to fewer candidates than the current A*, meaning able pupils will have a fresh opportunity to distinguish themselves further – but may have to work harder to do so.

Education Secretary Justine Greening has now said grade 4 will be the new ‘standard pass’ mark, equivalent to a C in the old system. This makes a grade 4 the “passport to future study and employment.”

A grade 5 will be now considered a ‘strong pass’ (rather than a ‘good pass’ and the equivalent to a C, as previously planned).

In a letter to the Education Select Committee, Greening wrote:

“Under the new system, a grade 4 and above will be equivalent to a C and above. This is – and will remain – the level that pupils must achieve in order not to be required to continue studying English and maths post 16. Therefore, a GCSE pass at new grade 4 will continue to have real currency for individual pupils as they progress to further study and employment. Where employers, FE providers and universities currently accept a grade C we would expect them to continue recognising a grade 4.”

Helping your children

Are you the parent of an able child and want to help them to achieve the highest grades? Or are you concerned about your child getting Grade 4 pass marks in the reformed system? Whatever your situation, Home-School Tutoring can help.

Home-School Tutoring provides qualified private tutors in all GCSE subjects, enabling students to fulfil their potential. Established in 1984, our registration procedure ensures all our GCSE tutors are suitably qualified and references are taken up before enhanced DBS checks are made.

Home-School Tutoring’s Margaret Sweetland, says:

“Our home tutors provide pupils with the time and attention they need to fully understand changing GCSE syllabuses and the requirements of the exams, and this is reflected in the results of the pupils they work with.”

As well as helping pupils revise for imminent exams, Home-School Tutoring is helping students prepare for next year’s exams. As well as making sure students fully understand their syllabuses, tutors can help students develop study skills and exam techniques that can make the difference between grades.

Contact your Area Advisor

For more information about GCSE tuition or tutors in your area, please contact your local Home-School Tutoring Area Advisors via our Find a Tutor page.

* The 17 new GCSEs introduced in September 2016 for exams in summer 2018 are ancient languages, art and design, biology, chemistry, citizenship studies, computer science, dance, double science, drama, food preparation and nutrition, geography, history, modern foreign languages, music, physical education, physics and religious studies.

** The 15 GCSEs to commence in September 2017 for exams in summer 2019 are ancient history, astronomy, business, classical civilisation, design and technology, economics, electronics, engineering, film studies, geology, information and communications technology (ICT), media studies, psychology, sociology and statistics.