A 5 will be the new ‘pass’ grade when GCSEs switch to numbered grading, education secretary Nicky Morgan is today set to announce.
This level will be harder for pupils to achieve than the current ‘C’ pass mark and is instead comparable to a high C grade or low B grade.
Ms Morgan has repeatedly described the government’s commitment to social justice in recent media interviews and she is expected to repeat it again today, saying that “setting a higher bar at GCSE” will give an assurance to young people that “the grades they achieve will help them get on in life.”
It had already been announced by Ofqual that a grade 5 will encompass the top third of marks in the existing C grade bracket, and be comparable to ‘average performers’ in countries such as France and Switzerland. But today’s announcement seals the number as an expected performance bar for the majority of students.
To encourage swift take up of the newly reformed GCSEs, only they will count in the Key Stage 4 performance tables once introduced. Older GCSEs will not count towards school performance measures such as progress 8.
This change will affect schools where pupils take GCSEs in year 10 (or earlier) and the specification is replaced the following year with an upgraded GCSE. In this instance, the pupil’s grade will no longer count in the school’s performance measures when the pupil reaches year 11. All other qualifications, already validated for inclusion in the performance tables, will remain as they are.
Morgan will also use her speech today to introduce a new behaviour expert group and announce an expectation that all students will be forced to sit certain GCSE subjects in the future.