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Grade 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2 or 1? Grading changes at GCSE level

Changes in the educational sector continue as the new Conservative government, since its inception a little over a month ago, has wasted no time in implementing sweeping reforms.

The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, announced earlier this week that the current grading system of A* to G for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is to be overhauled and replaced with a numbered scale from 1 to 9. No longer will students sweat it out to achieve their As and Bs, those who will be sitting their exams in summer 2017 will be aiming for grades 8 and 9.

The change in the system is part of the government’s plan to ensure that students are able to compete more effectively in the global education market. Under the current system, attaining a ‘good pass’ is a grade C. This will become a grade 5 under the new system which is to be equivalent to a high C or low B (a grade 4 will be equal to a current low C) and comparable to the standards worked to by students from top performing countries such as Switzerland and Finland.

The new grading system will also make it easier to differentiate between students at the higher end of achievement. There will be 6 grades (9 to 4) instead of 5 representing the current A* to C, and only 3 grades (3, 2 and 1) covering the lower end from D to G. The government believes this will create an education sector more responsive to the needs of colleges, universities and employers, as they will be able to set their grade requirements for courses and jobs more accurately, ensuring they attract the best students and candidates.

For the Education Secretary, this grading reform (along with the other raft of new educational measures being introduced) will go a long way to support the government’s commitment to social justice, pushing expectations and raising the aspirations of young people everywhere. Here’s hoping she is indeed right.

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