Exclusive: Pupils with 'gibberish' new GCSE grades could miss out on jobs, say employers

Institute of Directors fears pupils with reformed qualifications could lose out when time-poor employers are faced with CVs they don't understand

Eleanor Busby

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The Institute of Directors has warned that its members may view the new numerical grading system as “gibberish” and instead favour job candidates with old-style lettered GCSE grades.

On Thursday, pupils in England will be awarded numerical grades (from 9 to 1) in the new English literature, English language and maths GCSEs for the first time, rather than A* to G grades.

Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, believes many employers will only discover that the GCSE grades have changed once they begin receiving CVs from pupils.

He told Tes: “They might think, ‘What is this gibberish and what does it mean and how has it changed from previous grading systems?'"

CVs that employers 'don't understand'

Worse still, he fears some businesses could simply disregard CVs with new GCSE grades.

He warned: “If the employer is time-poor and resource-constrained then they can, on occasions, be quite keen to get through as many [CVs] as possible.

"So if they have a CV that they don’t understand then they might opt for the ones that they do.”

Concerns have been building over a general lack of knowledge about the new GCSEs.

A report from the CBI and exam-board owner Pearson revealed that more than a third of businesses did not know that a new numerical grading system for GCSEs in English and maths would be used this summer.

Last month, schools minister Nick Gibb revealed that more than half a million pounds of public money had been allocated to explaining the GCSE exam reforms.

Ofqual has said that its films about the changes have been watched “more than 10 million times”, and its research shows that 70 per cent of small-business owners are now aware of the new grades.

A Department for Education spokesperson says: “We have also been working directly with the CBI and others to communicate this with employers.

"Almost two-thirds of employers are aware of the new GCSE grading system and we will ensure that engagement continues.”

This is an edited version of an article in the 18 August edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click hereThis 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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