GCSE results 2023

GCSE results 2023: Grading ‘did not disadvantage any student’ – Saxton

This year's approach 'protected' students 'up and down the country', says Ofqual chief

This year's approach 'protected' students 'up and down the country', says Ofqual chief

This year’s grading approach did not “disadvantage any student,” Ofqual’s chief regulator has insisted.

Today’s GCSE’s results marked the end of a two-year plan to return to pre-pandemic grading, after inflated results when teacher grades were awarded in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid. 

The exams regulator built in “protection” to recognise the pandemic disruption, meaning it should be no harder to get a certain grade this year than in 2019.

The proportion of top grades for 16-year-olds in England fell to 22.4 per cent this year – but this is still above the 21.8 per cent in pre-pandemic 2019. 

Dr Jo Saxton told Schools Week she could “unequivocally say that the grading approach this year did not disadvantage any student”. 

“It protected students wherever they go to school or college up and down the country. That’s proven by the increase in top grades that we’ve seen on 2019.”

Both GCSE and A-level results have exposed a widening regional attainment gap between the north east and London.

The secondary disadvantage gap widened to its largest in 10 years last year. Equalities data for this summer will be published in the autumn. 

Saxton added: “Our job at Ofqual, my job as chief regulator, is to make sure that regulated qualifications are reliable and valid, that they give the truest picture of what students know, understand and can do.

“It’s for policymakers to work out what they are going to do with that information.”

No grading impact from cyber attack

Police are investigating cyber attacks at three exam boards after test papers were “extracted from their systems and sold online”, the forces confirmed earlier this year.

Saxton said she could not comment on a live investigation, but did reveal the breach did not have an impact on grading.

She provided “reassurance” and said exam boards had “good forensic techniques”. Ofqual required boards to look at whether there was any “impact” and “take appropriate action” if needed.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested over the breach. 

Last year, AQA found there was no impact on grade boundaries after a A-level chemistry paper was stolen from a Parcelforce van and leaked online.

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2 Comments

  1. “Our job at Ofqual, my job as chief regulator, is to make sure that regulated qualifications are reliable and valid, that they give the truest picture of what students know, understand and can do.”

    That’s right! That’s what the job is indeed about, quoted nearly word-for-word from the legislation, specifying Ofqual’s obligation “to secure that regulated qualifications give a reliable indication of knowledge, skills and understanding”. (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/22/section/128)

    But is that job being delivered? Especially when “more than one grade could well be a legitimate reflection of the student’s performance”, to quote Dr Saxton’s YouTube interview with Laura McInerney , as shown on this clip: https://www.youtube.com/clip/UgkxaIce_GL_7v4UPqT6-12KLStgSIC3Mzl5.

    Since only one of those “legitimate” grades is shown on a certificate, is that “the truest picture”?