GCSE results: Why did the pass rates fall?


Professor Alan Smithers, Director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said the staged introduction of the new grading system looked likely to lead to confusion:


“Pass rates have fallen this year and would have fallen further if Ofqual had not lowered the grade boundaries.  The worrying decline in languages has continued, with the EBacc seemingly having little effect.

“Comparisons with other countries have shown that we have not been expecting enough of our 16-year-olds.  In England, but not Wales nor Northern Ireland, GCSEs are being made more demanding with exams at the end.


“There is great potential for confusion.  In England for the next three years there will be a mixture of the new and the old grades.  The government has not been clear whether  grade 4 or a grade 5 will be counted as a pass..  Although bearing the same names, GCSEs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will differ in both content and grading.”


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