GCSE result day 2016: an overview


UNITED KINGDOM – The long-awaited GCSE result day of the year is finally here and students all over the UK headed to their schools this morning to find out their grades. Unfortunately, the situation is not good.

As reported by the Guardian’s education editor, Richard Adams, “GCSE pass rates have fallen dramatically acroass the board“: the proportion of people getting a C or above has dropped by a 2.1% and the decline is even more dramatic if we only take English into account. Part of these falls are probably not casual: the new government policies force 17-year-olds who got a D or lower in English or Maths to resit those exams; this results in more people overall re-taking the tests. The rest of the falls remains unexplained, with a drop of 1.3 percentage points in the proportion of pupils gaining A*-C grades – compared to 2015 results.

English grades were so bad that they are being labeled as the worst results since 2004: this drop might be caused by different factors, including the big increase in the number of 17-year-olds resitting the exam and in the number of students swtiching from a classic GCSE qualification to the IGCSE one: the IGCSE (The International General Certificate of Secondary Education) is an English language curriculum offered to students, developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations, recognised as being equivalent to the GCSE though it looks like it is considered to be more similar to the so-called older O-Levels which are less in-depth and academically rigorous than A-levels.


Today’s results also marked another new record, with their falls of A*-C being the biggest since the creation of GCSEs in 1988, as reported by Press Association. Furthermore, this is the last year of the existing maths and English syllabuses, and some schools concentrating on the new syllabuses, which they are already teaching for next year’s exams, as told PA by Alan Smithers, director of Buckingham’s Centre for Education and Employment Research. Starting next year, pupils will sit new GCSE courses in English language, English literature and maths, marked from 1-9. The changes will be rolled out across another 17 subjects by summer 2018.

Moreover, what is worrying teachers unions is the alarming drop in the number of students sitting creative subjects at GCSE, as reported by PA: the importance given to English, Maths, History and Geography is undermining critical subjects such as design, technology, art and foreign languages even though they are perfectly linked to many careers and occupations in the UK.

Luckily, not everything was a complete mess: the overall GCSE pass rate in Wales and Northern Ireland increased since last year, as well as the percentage of A and A*. In addition to that, more than 14,000 learners were awarded a Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma
and almost 12,000 learners achieved the full Intermediate Diploma.