Exams shake-up sees 837 teenagers score clean sweep of highest GCSE grade

Pupils across the country have been celebrating their GCSE results (Picture: PA)

Just 837 teenagers achieved the highest grade in all their GCSEs this year, with girls performing better than boys.

The overall proportion of students getting top grades has risen for the second year in a row, after the biggest exams shake-up in a generation.

Hundreds of thousands of youngsters nervously awaited their results today after sitting through the government’s tough new courses.

More than one in five (20.8 per cent) of entries fetched one of the top three grades this year, compared to 20.5 per cent last summer.

Under the new grading system ranging from 1 to 9, an old A grade translates into a 7.

The new grading system has gradually phased in since 2017, initially only being used for English Literature, English Language and Maths.

It was an emotional day for many, as students sat much tougher exams (Picture: PA) Becky Haddon reacts after receiving her GCSE results at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 22, 2019. See PA story EDUCATION GCSEs. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire Students nervously awaited their results today after enduring much harder courses (Picture: PA)

Girls outperformed boys in achieving the highest grades (Picture: PA)A total of 25 subjects were awarded new grades for the first time this year.

GCSEs have been toughened up under England’s exams overhaul, with less coursework and exams being held at the end of two-year courses rather than throughout.

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Meanwhile there have been separate GCSE exam reforms in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The proportion receiving at least a 7/A is the highest since 2015 and marks the second year-on-year rise in a row, according to data from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

But separate figures from exams regulator Ofqual, showed just 837 of 16-year-olds in England taking at least seven new GCSEs scored a clean sweep of straight 9s in all subjects.

This is makes up a mere 0.1 per cent of the more than half a million teenagers in England taking GCSEs.

It is an improvement from the 732 students getting achieving exclusively top grades last year.

Friends at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham got emotional (Picture: PA)
The number of children scoring 7-9 grades was up on last year (Picture: PA)

The increase has been put down to a higher number of students taking all of their GCSEs on the reforming numbered grading system.

Of the 837 students who came top of the class, 66.4 per cent were girls and 33.6 per cent were boys.

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Last summer 62 per cent of the straight 9 achievers 38 per cent were boys and 62 per cent were girls.

A total of 10 students achieved a 9 in 12 GCSEs while the 293 students who achieved a a clean sweep were studying for 10 of the qualifications.

The proportion of entries getting at least a 4 (equivalent to an old C grade), is also at its highest since 2015.

A total of 67.3 per cent achieved the grade or higher, compared to 66.9 per cent last year, according to JCQ.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the results show pupils are going on to further study and the world of work ‘with the best possible foundations, focusing on the academic cornerstones of education while also stretching themselves creatively’.

Emily Fox, who got all grade 9s, hugs a friend at Birmingham’s King Edward VI High School for Girls (Picture: PA) ASHTEAD, AUGUST 22: Kaan Suphi hugs his father after receiving his GCSE results at the City of London Freemen's School on August 22, 2019 in Ashtead, United Kingdom. Hundreds of thousands of young people are receiving their GCSE results after the biggest shake-up of the exams for a generation. GCSEs in England have been changed with less coursework and exams at the end of the two-year courses rather than throughout. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images) Parents across the country breathed a sigh of relief as their children collected results (Picture: Getty Images)

Parents across the country breathed a sigh of relief as their children got their results (Picture: Getty Images)But school leaders have raised concerns that the new courses are ‘demoralising’ for lower-achieving students who risk being ‘written off’ based on their performance.

A poll by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) of 554 members in England found that eight in 10 believe the reformed courses are having a detrimental effect on struggling students.

The association’s general secretary Geoff Barton said the content of the new GCSEs is ‘definitely harder’ but the mode of assessment is also a massive hurdle for many.

He added: ‘We are concerned for those young people, that in a qualification that is called a general qualification, it appears to have as collateral damage a third of young people who get a 3, a 2 or a 1 in English and maths and are told they haven’t met national standards.

‘At the current rate it’s going to be a long time until you don’t have a third of young people written off because they got 3s, 2s and 1s.’

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: ‘Exams are an essential part of ensuring that young people have acquired the knowledge and skills they need, but should never be at the expense of a young person’s well-being.’


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