GCSE results 2017: Exam reform leaves 18-point gap between grades 4 and 5

Half of all grades in the reformed GCSEs were a grade 5 – a “strong pass” – or above, English results show.

Fifty-three per cent of grades in English language, English literature and maths were a grade 5 or higher. Meanwhile, 71 per cent of grades were a 4 or above, a result that still counts as a “standard pass”.

On a national level, there is an 18.2 percentage point gap between the proportion of grade 4s and “strong” passes at grade 5.

The pass rates at both grades will be separately reported in school performance tables, but the strong pass rate will be the new headline measure by which schools are judged.

Justine Greening introduced the distinction between strong and standard passes in March, the first year of the reforms, which amended the grading systems for the English language, literature and maths GCSEs to a numbered grading system (9-1) from the more familiar letters (A*-G). Other major subjects will follow next year.

In English literature, 55.4 per cent of pupils received a grade 5 or above and 72.5 per cent got a grade 4 or above.

The grade 4 pass rate is slightly down on 2016 results, when 75 per cent of pupils passed at a grade C in England.

In maths, 49.7 per cent of pupils got a grade 5 or above; 70.7 per cent received a grade 4 or above, a difference of 21 percentage points.

Nevertheless, this represents a rise on last year, when 62 per cent of pupils received a grade C or above.

The lowest strong pass figure of the three subjects was in English language, in which 53.3 per cent of pupils achieved a grade 5 or above, and 69.9 per cent got a grade 4 or above.

This grade 4 result still represents a rise on last year, when 60 per cent of pupils achieved a grade C or above.

Sharon Hague, the senior vice-president of exam board Pearson, pointed out that this year’s cohort had lower prior attainment, and claimed there was a “wider range of ability” than in 2016, either of which may have contributed to some of the grade dips.

*The figures in bold have been updated from UK-wide data to England-only data for 16-year-olds across the newly reformed subjects.

It follows Schools Week receiving only the UK-wide data during a Joint Council for Qualifications press briefing yesterday. JCQ published the England data later, under ‘other information’.

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