Comment on GCSE results in England: 2016 to 2017

Commenting on the latest GCSE and equivalent results in England: 2016 to 2017, from the Department for Education (DfE), Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The DfE presents today’s results as a sign of continued progress. In fact, they reveal confusion and a deeply troubling picture of curriculum narrowness.

“The results show that EBacc entries are declining and confirm that the DfE must abandon the delusional expectation that 90% of children will take it. Too many children have been pushed on to inappropriate subject pathways and denied the opportunity to thrive in other valuable and challenging subjects.

“It is confusing that the bar for achievement in English and maths has been raised arbitrarily to a grade 5 under the new system, which is higher than the old standard of grade C. Parents and employers will be puzzled that schools are now judged on the basis of achievement at grade 5 – described as a ‘strong pass’ – while individual students have the bar set at grade 4, a ‘standard pass’. Other changes relating to the way that the new numerical grading system is aligned with the previous system mean that sensible year-on-year comparisons are not possible. This adds fresh confusion to an exam system that has already been marred by hasty implementation and controversies over grading.

“At a time of rising pupil numbers, a recruitment and retention crisis, funding cuts, real pay cuts to teachers and staff, upheavals caused by unnecessary reforms and mounting workload, these figures cannot be used meaningfully to hold schools to account. A school is worth more than the shaky data that Progress 8 scores and the league tables have contrived to present.”



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Press release
25 January 2018