While two brainy pupils are off to university early after achieving incredible results, others were left disappointed and with their futures in jeopardy after it emerged that GCSE results fell for the first times in the exam’s 24-year history.
Ramiz Amad and Mushed Miah, aged 15 and 16 respectively, are heading to Kings College University after achieving three distinctions for their BTEC Diploma Information Technology, a qualification which is equivalent to three A grades at A-Level.
However, many teenagers got a bit of a shock when they opened their results. The proportion of papers marked as at least an ‘A’ dropped by 0.8% to 22.4%, which is the first recorded annual decline since 1988. In the first annual drop on record, fewer GCSE papers were marked C, with marks down by 0.4% to 69.4%. Up to 10,000 pupils failed to achieve a C grade in English, while the proportion of C grades in science dropped from 62.9% to 60.7%.
The slump in pass rates sparked a furious reaction from both pupils and teachers, who said that grade boundaries had been “very substantially” raised at the last minute. In a speech on grade inflation last year, managing director of the Edexcel exam board Ziggy Liaquat said that there was a “weight of evidence [...] expressing specific concern about the body of knowledge with which students arrive into the workplace or at university”. Concerns that exams are getting ‘easier’ have been floating around for a while – but the correction of so-called “lenient” grade boundaries has seriously affected pupils’ futures.
However (yes, there is a silver lining): while this is clearly unwelcome news for GCSE and potentially A-Level students, the slump may benefit university graduates. Contrary to the notion that ‘no one looks at your GCSE grades’; they do actually matter.....a lot. Students with conditional sixth-form places rely heavily on their grades, and universities take them into account when deciding whether to make students an offer. Getting a C instead of a B at GCSE could prevent a student from getting into university – or onto the course they wanted – which may lead to a welcome decrease in competition within the graduate jobs