Well done to the students and staff who have worked so hard to achieve this year’s GCSE results. But the increased GCSE content is narrowing the curriculum and the return to assessment by end-of-course exams is damaging students’ mental health, says the National Education Union.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The National Education Union congratulates everyone receiving their GCSE results today, and those who have worked hard teaching and supporting students.

“But we are deeply concerned about the pressure and stress these new GCSEs have put on students and school and college staff, which has been exacerbated by the upheaval of the rushed implementation.

“Removing most coursework and other non-exam assessment and just using end-of-course exams makes the exams extremely high stakes and is contributing to poor mental health among students.

“There is something wrong if many schools and colleges feel they need to start teaching these new GCSEs in year nine, and some even in year eight, to get through the more difficult and increased amount of content. This narrows the curriculum, squeezing out time for subjects such as music, drama, art and technology, reduces career options for young people and risks turning them off education.

“It has added to the squeezing out of creative and technical subjects which were already in decline because they are not included in the EBacc measure - with entries in non-EBacc subjects down 13% on 2017 and down 23% on 2016.

“Schools and colleges should be freed from the current EBacc and Progress 8 straitjackets and able to offer courses and activities which develop academic, vocational, personal development and life skills alongside, rather than at the expense of, knowledge, since all are important for life outside education.”