Letters and numbers mix for 2017 GCSE grades
Grades for GCSEs in England are changing. Letter grades from G to A* are being replaced with numbered grades from 1 to 9. Grades 8 and 9 are about equivalent to the lower and upper halves of the existing A* grade, and grade 5 is like a C-and-a-half.
So where ‘five good GCSEs’ meant five at grade C or above including English and maths, that will become five at grade 5 or above, which is a bit higher. The first GCSE subjects to move to the new system will be examined in 2017, and the rest will follow in 2018 and 2019.
The regional picture varies. Scotland carries on with its own scheme of Nationals, with letter grades at National 5 level. Wales and Northern Ireland are sticking with the old letter grades for GCSE. The chair of Northern Ireland’s education committee has pointed out that the lack of 8-9 differentiation at the very top could disadvantage some students, so has floated the idea of adding a new top grade of A**.
So in 2017 and 2018, students in England will have some grades in letters and some in numbers. And in Northern Ireland, where many schools continue to use mainland exam boards, the most academically able students could end up with subject grades at 9, A*, and even A**, all meaning they got top marks.
There’s a lot to explain to students about the new grades. So in Jed, with each reference to GCSEs, we’ve included a link to the updated factsheet with our summary of the changes and what they mean for today’s students.
25% drop-out rate for apprenticeships
The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion’s “Achievement and retention in post 16 education” report paints a mixed picture for retention rates in the UK.
Completion rates for A-levels are improving, with more than 95% of learning aims completed. That’s up from three years previously where only 91% were accomplished.
Amongst apprentices aged 16-18, nearly three quarters successfully completed their apprenticeship. That’s a welcome improvement from 2005, when less than half of that group got through. But for the four most recent years analysed, the apprentice drop-out rate has stuck at over 25%. As well as revealing a picture of disappointment for many young people who set out on an apprenticeship, it is a significant waste of money from the education budget.
The report lists the quality and amount of careers education information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) for young people as a significant factor. Where young people have access to good CEIAG, they are better able to choose what suits them, and follow education and training that results in enjoyment and success.
Last updated 22 February, 2016