What do the changes mean, in a nutshell?
According to Department for Education officials, the new GCSEs are “more challenging”, covering more content than in previous years.
They are to be graded from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade, rather than A*-G. New GCSEs are linear in structure rather than modular, with all exams at the end of a two-year course.
Why are they changing?
The new qualifications are the result of a long process of reform that began in 2011, involving extensive consultation with schools, FE, HE and employers on the principles of reform and subject content.
“The GCSE grading scale in England is changing and we have revised our GCSE qualifications to make them more demanding,” DfE guidance states. “We have done this so pupils leave school better prepared for work or further study.”
How do they work?
The new grading scale has more grades at the higher end to recognise the very highest achievers. Grade 9 is the highest grade and will be awarded to fewer pupils than the current A*.
The Department for Education recognises grade 4 as a ‘standard pass’; this is the minimum level that pupils need to reach in English and maths (previously a ‘C’)