GCSE results: Early entries skew grades in core subjects

Changing GCSE entry patterns in English literature, English language and maths cause fluctuating outcomes

Will Hazell

The Department for Education has announced the pilot of a basic maths premium

Changing early entry patterns have resulted in fluctuating outcomes in core GCSE subjects, today’s results show.

In GCSE maths, the proportion of UK entries receiving an A/7 grade or above increased from 15.5 per cent last year to 15.8 this year.

The Joint Council for Qualifications – the body that represents the exam boards – suggested that changes in the 15-year-old cohort had helped to push up the share of top grades in the subject.

This year the number of early, 15-year-old, entries for maths across the UK decreased by 53.4 per cent. However, the 7,583 candidates who were entered at this age were higher-attaining – passes at A/7 and above among 15-year-olds rocketed from 19.1 per cent in 2017 to 40.1 per cent this year.

The number of GCSE entries among students aged 17 and over, who generally have lower grades, dropped by 4.3 per cent – a sign that entries for this age group are beginning to stabilise after large increases in recent years related to resits.

In English literature, results at grade A/7 and above increased from 19.2 per cent in 2017 to 19.9 per cent this year, and results at grade C/4 and above increased from 72.6 per cent to 73.6 per cent.

Early GCSE entries

JCQ suggested this had been partly driven by changing patterns of early entry over the past three years – the number of 15-year old entries increased by 39.1 per cent in the subject in this year alone.

JCQ said that its analysis indicated that the rise in pupils "banking" their English literature grade a year early had created a stronger performing 16-year-old cohort that had pushed up overall results.

In English language, entries achieving A/7 and above increased from 13.6 per cent in 2017 to 14.1 per cent this year.

Sixteen-year-old male pupils performed more strongly this year. The proportion in this demographic achieving A/7 and above rose by 1.3 percentage points from 11.4 per cent in 2017 to 12.7 per cent this year, while girls' results only increased marginally from 22.3 per cent to 22.5.

For students sitting the 9-1 English language GCSE, the proportion achieving 7 and above fell by 0.6 percentage points from 14.6 per cent in 2017 to 14 per cent this year, while passes above a 4 fell 2.9 percentage points from 64.9 per cent in 2017 to 62 per cent this year.

JCQ said this was driven by a growing number of 17-year-old resitters in England.

 

 

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

Latest stories

New headteachers - here are 9 things you need to know

Headteacher wellbeing and sources of 'streth'

Former headteacher Chris McDermott set out to find out the true causes of leader stress and support – and in doing so coined a whole new term, as he explains here
Chris McDermott 2 Dec 2021
Transdisciplinary learning: how to embed it in your school

Why you need a transdisciplinary curriculum

At the Aspirations Academies, six hours a week are dedicated to applied transdisciplinary learning - but how does it work? And should you apply something similar at your school?
Steve Kenning 2 Dec 2021
Expert governors can now come and help schools and trusts

Why schools and trusts can now hire 'expert governors'

Providing access to expert governors for struggling settings - or those willing to pay £500 a day for their insights - could have a huge benefit across education, claims the National Governance Association
Emily Attwood 2 Dec 2021