GCSEs are changing – Information for parents

As you may be aware, the government has recently announced radical changes to the structure and assessment of GCSEs.

From this August your child will receive a mix of numeric and alphabetic grades – this leaflet explains why and how these changes are taking place.

How are GCSEs changing?

GCSEs will be graded on a new scale of 9 to 1 rather than A* to G as now, with 9 the highest grade, as follows:

– The changes are taking place gradually over the next few years

– In Summer 2017 English Literature, English Language and maths GCSEs will be graded on a scale of 9 to 1
– In August 2018 this new system will be extended to popular subjects, including arts, humanities, languages and the sciences
– Other subjects, such as psychology, ancient history, business, ICT and media will follow in August 2019
– GSSE content will be more challenging but still suitable for all abilities
– The new courses will include far less coursework, with grades in almost all subjects depending on exams taken after two years of study rather than in modules with exams along the way

The new grading system explained

– A “good pass” will be changed from a C to a grade 5
– A grade 4 will roughly be in line with a grade C
– The bottom of grade 1 will be aligned with the bottom of grade G
– Students who would have got a Grade A or better will get a grade 7 or better
– Grade 9 will be more difficult to achieve than the current A*. The extra top grade will also make it easier for employers and universities to distinguish between the most able students

Why are GCSEs changing?

The new qualifications aim to:

– Provide a stronger foundation for further study and employment, keeping pace with the demands of universities and employers
– Support students in developing the knowledge, skills and values they need for life in modern Britain
– Match the standards of the best education systems in the world.

How will it affect my child?

– In 2017, students in year 10 and 11 will sit a mixture of reformed and unreformed GCSEs; subjects affected are outlined in the table above. For example year 11 will sit the first reformed GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths, and unreformed exams in all other GCSE subjects. Both the unreformed and reformed qualifications will be accepted by employers, sixth forms and colleges. Exam certificates awarded in 2017, 2018 and 2019 will have mixture of numbers and letters on them

– Students who are in year 9 or younger in September 2016 will only take reformed GCSEs, with the exception of the less taught languages. Their GCSEs will all be awarded in numbers, with the same exception

– Resit opportunities will only be available each November in English language and Maths

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