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GCSE results to decide fate of 250 schools in England

Written on:August 23, 2023
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Tough grading system leaves pupils with lower results

As around 650,000 students await the GCSE exam results that will be declared today, several schools in England face the threat of closure and takeover, following the rising numbers of state secondaries failing to achieve rigorous targets imposed by the government.

It is feared by experts that around 250 schools fell short of the target due to a series of reforms introduced over the past few years by the government leading to a decline in the overall pass rate of pupils.

This year, the government, had ordered all schools to ensure that 40% of pupils gain at least five good grades, including in English and Maths. It is up on the 35% target by which schools were judged last summer.

The latest reforms included imposition of harder science exams, a cut in the number of pupils sitting for easier vocational qualifications and the introduction of rules for examiners designed to prevent year-on-year grade inflation.

Meanwhile, concerned teachers insist that GCSE English exams were marked too harshly this year. English teachers who were shown early breakdowns of the marks complained that exam boards had substantially increased grade boundaries, leaving pupils with lower results than expected.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said there seemed to be a particular problem with C/D borderline grades in English, with pupils who were expecting Cs ending up getting Ds.

“We expected results to plateau because of the Government taking steps to peg them to previous levels. But we certainly didn’t expect anything like this and schools have been taken by surprise. We’ve got some schools where teachers have been teaching the same course for years and suddenly the results are way below what they’ve always been before as the pass mark has been moved higher”, ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman said.

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