Posted on 24th August 2012
GCSE Results 2012
This year’s GCSE results have been particularly dramatic and controversial, with a major uproar surrounding the English results. Teachers and students alike are outraged by the huge shift in grade boundaries, which has meant that many pupils have received grades that are much lower than they expected.
Anger is mainly focused on the fact that students who sat English GCSE exams in January needed 43% to attain a C grade. However, those who sat the exam in May needed to get 53% to get a C. This is an enormous difference, and has left many students who were expecting at least a C grade with a D or below. Overall the percentage of pupils attaining a C grade or above in English dropped by 1.5%. Maths and science grades also fell.
Although boundaries for grades often change, and talk of trying to curb grade inflation has been rife for a while, it is the severity of the exam boards’ actions that has really shocked people. For example, out of the 96,000 students who sat English literature and language with the AQA board, only 2.3% were awarded an A or A* and almost 70% got a D or lower. One head teacher told the Guardian that the marking this year has been “savage and abnormal”.
Despite the vociferous criticism, exam boards are standing by their decisions and the managing director of Edexcel, Ziggy Liaquat, said: “We do understand that students and teachers not getting results they anticipated is unsettling. But I think the key point is we base our decisions on the quality of the work that we see in front of us. We use other data points to do this in collaboration with the regulator, so at qualification level, students should be reassured that they’ve got the grade that their work merits.”
It is known that Ofqual, who regulate the exam boards, told examiners that they needed to ensure that grades were comparable to previous years. There are also suspicions that education secretary Michael Gove put pressure on the boards to mark papers more harshly, although he has denied telling them where the grade boundaries should lie. Gove told the BBC that there was no “political pressure” put on the exam boards when it came to marking the papers this year.
Michael Gove will no doubt be under the spotlight even more than usual in the next few days, with so many teachers and pupils wanting to know why the goalposts have been shifted. Cllr Nickie Aiken, from the Conservative Westminster council has been very open with her thoughts on the matter, saying, “I fully support the education secretary’s efforts to create more consistency across GCSE examinations, but it appears the goalposts have been moved for a particular group of children halfway through their two-year exam and study period, which is simply not fair.”
Many students who didn’t get the grades they were hoping for will undoubtedly be feeling disappointed today, but many schools will also be feeling disheartened. Unless 40% of students achieve five A*-C grades in their GCSEs, the school will be deemed ‘failing’. With such a large gap between expected and actual grades this year, there may be a number of schools who have sadly fallen into the ‘failing’ category.
We very much hope that you got what you were hoping for if you opened a grade envelope today. But if your results aren’t what you expected and you would like some advice, do give us a call and our tutors can guide and help you with what to do next.