GCSE results day sees record highs, days after A-Level confusion


Up and down the country there has been cause to celebrate as GCSE pupils have been finding out their exam results. This year's performance has seen record breaking results across the board for students, as both the percentage in pass rates and top grades have risen.

A little over 25.9% have been awarded grade 7 or higher (this is the equivalent to A or A*) which is up from last years figure of 20.7%. This cause for optimism has been mirrored in the percentage of grades achieving the score of 4 or more (which is equivalent to the pass mark of C and above) with that figure also rising sharply from 70% to 79% in England.

Crucially, this was also reflected in the outcomes of compulsory GCSE subjects. The Education editor for the Guardian Richard Adams, reports that the percentage of pupils gaining 7 and above rose from 20% to 24% while those gaining 4 and above also rose from 71.5% to just over 77%.

The results which represent a marked improvement from those of last year will come as a relief to the estimated 600,000 students. Both themselves and their loved ones had been waiting patiently for this day. The outcome is all the more encouraging given the context of what has been an especially difficult year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Similarly, encouraging results have been seen in Wales and Northern Ireland. In Wales, the number of A and A* grades has risen to 25.9% from 18.4%, with the number of pupils attaining a C also rising to 74.5% from 62.8%.



In Northern Ireland, the percentage for students that received A and A* grades rose by 5.7% with the proportion that obtained grades of C and above, also up by 7.6% to 89.4%.

However, 'Results day' has not been without its disappointments. Almost half a million pupils face the prolonged wait for results after exam board Pearson withheld the release of results. Notification of the decision arriving only 24 hours ago. This means that students that worked to obtain BTec qualifications will have experienced the added stress of awaiting clarification over their immediate future.

This, of course, comes in the same week as the wider confusion and outrage regarding the issuing of A-Level results. The algorithm designed by exam regulator Ofqual saw nearly 40% of all A-Level results downgraded. The algorithm in question was based on previously achieved grades and saw the results of many students hit excessively and at times even arbitrarily. This was soon followed by reports suggesting that pupils attending less privileged establishments had been the worst hit by the exam debacle.

Student protests, additional public pressure and numerous online petitions demanding a change to the system eventually saw a government U-turn resulting in grades being determined by teacher estimates.

The repercussions of the initial hiccup have already been felt though with many students having already been denied their place at their preferred university of choice. It remains to be seen whether further changes will be made to remedy the situation.



Mayowa Ayodele


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