Students collect GCSE results following exam reform

Thousands of students across the city are collecting their GCSE results today (24 August) following major changes to the exams. This year students are being awarded a mixture of number and letter grades in the next step towards number-only grades in 2019.

English language, English literature and maths are the first subjects to be reformed and are now graded from 9 to 1, with 9 representing the highest grade. The curriculum for these subjects has also become more challenging. All other subjects will continue to be graded by letters from A*- G this year.

Provisional results for Bristol show that 58% have achieved grade 9 – 4 in English and maths, with over 3,000 students taking the exams this year. Due to changes in the grading system it is not possible to directly compare results with previous years.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said:

“Well done to all of our young people who took their GCSEs this year, as well as the families, carers, teachers and governors who have been instrumental in these results. A huge amount of hard work goes into these exams and with tougher curriculum and number grades introduced this year our pupils have had to overcome many new challenges to succeed. To those who may be disappointed with their results today, I would say don’t be disheartened – you can still do well in the future.”

Jon Angell, chair of the secondary heads association and Principal at City Academy, said:

“The improvements that we have seen in Bristol schools over the last few years continue to deliver impressive outcomes for our students as we celebrate another set of great results across the city. Congratulations to the students and a huge thank you to everyone who has supported them along the way.”

Councillor Claire Hiscott, Cabinet Member for education and skills, said:

“We should be very proud of all the young people collecting their results today. It’s so important that pupils have the support they need to reach their full potential so we have been working together with schools through our Learning City partnership to make sure successes are shared. It is our collective goal to ensure all young people in Bristol have access to a good education.”

Currently 95% of Bristol’s secondary schools are rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED, compared to a national average of 79%. Results are all provisional until they are confirmed later in October, but across the city there are some success stories of schools and students who have done well.

Redland Green saw an 88% pass rate whilst at Cotham School 49 students achieved five or more grades A/A* or grade 7-9, with 70% of students reaching grade 4 and above English and maths. Bristol Metropolitan Academy, Bedminster Down School, Oasis Brislington Academy, Colston’s Girls’ School and Fairfield High School all saw increases in students achieving this standard. St Bede’s Catholic College also saw a higher pass rate (80%) during principal Ms Hughes’ last year at the school following 22 years of service.

Bedminster Down School Headteacher Gary Schlick said:

“It’s been an uncertain year for schools across the country with the start of a new grading and examination system so I’m particularly delighted that students and teachers have gained a strong set of results. All students at Bedminster Down are leaving school with either a place for further study or an apprenticeship.”

Executive Principal at Fairfield High School, Catriona Mangham said:

“I am delighted that the hard work of our students and staff has been rewarded, particularly in our outstanding results in English and maths. In a difficult year, they have come up trumps and our young people will be well placed to take their next steps in education or training. As a diverse and truly comprehensive school, it is pleasing to note the excellent progress made by disadvantaged students, those with English as an additional language and those in care.”

At St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School 87% of students obtained grade 4 or above in English and maths and 32% received grade A or 7 and above. Headteacher Elisabeth Gilpen commented:

“I am so pleased that, by way of these results, our students have opened the door to the next stage of their education or training and that many will be continuing in our own Redcliffe Sixth Form Centre.”

Under the new system, grade 9 is not the same as A* but is a new grade designed to recognise the very highest performing students so fewer grade 9 marks will be awarded than A*s. The C grade range has been divided into two new numerical grades with grade 4 a ‘standard pass’ and grade 5 a ‘strong pass’.

The grade reforms follow on from changes introduced last year which introduced two new measurements known as Attainment 8 and Progress 8. The first of these, Attainment 8, is concerned with individual’s achievement across eight qualifications including English and maths, which are double weighted. Progress 8 measures how well schools have helped students to progress and looks at how much they have improved from the end of Key Stage 2, compared with students nationally with similar starting points.