Exclusive: Less than a fifth of parents think new GCSE grading system is a 'good idea'

A Tes and Mumsnet poll reveals widespread anxiety and confusion among parents about the exam reforms

Eleanor Busby

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Less a than a fifth of parents think this year’s new GCSE grading system is a “good idea”, and 44 per cent of those with children studying for the new exams think they will hinder their prospects.

The findings come in a Tes and Mumsnet survey of more than 1,000 parents in England.

The 9-1 numerical grades – replacing A* to G – have been introduced to signal that GCSEs had been reformed and toughened, and to offer better differentiation between pupils.

But the poll reveals that nearly two-thirds of those with children studying GCSEs do not support the numerical system coming into effect next week.

It also finds that almost three-quarters of parents with children who have studied for the GCSEs do not think enough official information about the grades has been provided.

More than two-fifths of all parents do not know that a 9 represents a top grade under the new system and the survey uncovers confusion about what represents a pass.

And according to a new snap poll of secondary teachers by the ATL teaching union, nearly nine in 10 (88 per cent) think parents and carers do not understand the new GCSE grading system.

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder and chief executive, says: “There’s quite a lot of anxiety and confusion among parents about GCSE regrading. The closer their children are to Year 11, the more worried they are about the effects [the new grades will have] on their children’s future chances.”

Ofqual said that its films about the changes have been watched “more than 10 million times” and its research shows that 80 per cent of parents of secondary pupils are now aware of the new grades.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have worked with Ofqual to issue a wide range of resources since 2014 to help raise awareness of the new grading system."

The results of the survey are detailed below:

This is an edited version of an article in the 18 August edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's Tes magazine is available at all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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