People are struggling to understand the new 9 to 1 GCSE grading system

Understanding of how GCSEs work dropped after the new 9 to 1 grading system came in.

A survey of almost 3,000 heads, teachers, parents, universities and the public at large conducted between October 24 and December 1 last year found 62 per cent of respondents felt GCSEs are well understood by people, compared with 70 per cent the previous year.

Last summer was the first time the new 9 to 1 grading system was used, in three exams: English language, English literature and maths. It will be applied to a wider range of subjects in the results issued in summer this year.

Of those who responded to the survey, 83 per cent were aware of the new grading system, and 82 per cent correctly identified that 9 is the best grade pupils can get.

The proportion of young people who felt that GCSE standards are maintained year on year also decreased in the latest round of the YouGov survey, commissioned by Ofqual, from 46 per cent in 2016 to 35 per cent in 2017.

However, the perception of GCSEs as a trusted qualification remained unchanged, with 72 per of respondents saying so this year, the same as in the previous survey.

The same amount of participants felt that marking was as accurate in 2017 as it was in 2016, but this figure was low at only 36 per cent, and a higher proportion of headteachers disagreed (58 per cent compared to 49 per cent in 2016).

The proportion of respondents who said GCSEs are “good preparation for further study” remained consistent at 70 per cent, though there was a decrease in those that think GCSEs are good preparation for work, from 38 per cent to 35 per cent.

People still agree that AS and A-levels are well understood at the same level, 59 per cent, and the proportion of respondents who said AS and A-levels are trusted qualifications also remained the same at 81 per cent.

There is slightly more confidence in A-level marking than at GCSE, but this still amounted to less than half of respondents (40 per cent).

Seventy-nine per cent of people agree that AS and A-levels are good preparation for further study, a proportion that remained steady, though more higher education institutions disagreed with the statement than last year (20 per cent compared with 13 per cent).

The perception that AS and A-levels are good preparation for work saw a decrease on 2016, from 41 per cent to 37 per cent, especially among young people.

Forty-nine per cent of respondents believe that AS and A-levels develop a broad range of skills for students, a decrease from 52 per cent in 2016.