Commenting on Making the Grade, a study of GCSE reforms published today by the Sutton Trust, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“It is absolutely not surprising that the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and others has widened as a result of the Government’s GCSE reforms.

“These reforms were unplanned, had no meaningful consultation with teachers and no proper lead-in time.

“The exams now cover an unmanageable amount of content for many students, and unlike in real life the students have to sit them once-and-for-all at the end of the course.

“Both these issues are causing real problems.

“It is at the door of the Government that whilst under the previous system 2% of disadvantaged pupils achieved the top grade (of A*), it is now just 1% that achieve a grade 9.

“The Sutton Trust is right to say that this may have negative impacts on these students when they are applying for university places.

“A survey of National Education Union members found that 73% thought that pupil mental health was worse due to the new GCSE reforms and 64% said the reformed courses did not reflect students’ abilities as accurately. (1)

“We need to see a system in place that plays to all pupils’ strengths to ensure they get the qualifications they deserve.”

Editor’s Note

  1. Reformed GCSEs are damaging the mental health of young people, and failing to accurately reflect their abilities, 21 August 2019.