10th September 2018

Didn’t we do well! Measuring the Impact of New GCSEs?

Mr Walton-McBain, Deputy Headteacher

Didn’t we do well! Measuring the Impact of New GCSEs?

As we start the new academic year and look forward to the challenges and opportunities of another new term, it is important to reflect on the success of last year. 2018 was a very important time for KS4 students as it saw the introduction of new more challenging GCSEs courses in the majority of GCSE subjects. New GCSEs included Geography, History, French, Spanish and Science amongst others, to add to English and Maths which had their first new exams in 2017.

The biggest change to GCSEs is the change from old A*-G letter grades to new 9-1 number grades, and the confusion around what these grades mean – is a pass a grade 4 or a grade 5? Is a B the same as a 6? Should I be disappointed with “only” a grade 8?

The new number grades are different from the old letter grades. While a new grade 4 – a standard pass – is comparable to an old grade C, the new grade 5 – a strong pass – is equivalent to a C+/B-. A grade 5 in any subject is an excellent outcome, and definitely better than on old grade C. Similarly, a grade 6 is equivalent to a B+ (higher than a grade B), and more demanding to achieve. Nationally, only around 3% of all grades awarded were grade 9. In High Storrs, 7% of grades achieved were grade 9 – this grade is the new A** and anyone achieving this standard should be very proud of their achievements.

At this time of year local and national newspapers start to publish comparison tables to show which schools performed best, and how they compare to each other. This information is not always helpful, as every school community is different, and has to be judged on much more than exam success. At High Storrs, we have a curriculum designed to delivering learning in the best interests of our students. Our model of early entry for students in Y9 and 10 allows us to offer subjects such as Classics, Latin, Dance and Music which are slowly disappearing from other schools due to falling numbers. It is the right curriculum for our school community.

However this year, published figures will only include grades for new 9-1 GCSEs, and not count old letter grade results in school performance tables for subjects which have changed to their new course. For example, if a student achieved an A* in History in Y10 in 2017, this grade would not count in the school performance figures since History in 2018 now uses number grades. This in no way diminishes the achievement of the students who have taken these exams.

At High Storrs we have used the grades from all exams taken by our students to calculate their achievement and we are proud of the excellent results Y11 have achieved – an improvement from 2017 and significantly above the national average for school performance. Our “official” figures will be lower than this, as they discount hundreds of grades achieved by students in 2016 and 2017. For the next 2 years, High Storrs will have 2 sets of results – official published figures and “actual” outcomes.

So in school we will rightly celebrate the success of a fabulous group of Y11 students who have achieved some of the best GCSE results ever at High Storrs. And we will continue to deliver the curriculum that is right for our students and our school community, and be proud to do so.