Top GCSE Marks Fall by 4.3% with Pass Rates Returning to Pre-Covid Levels

Top GCSE Marks Fall by 4.3% with Pass Rates Returning to Pre-Covid Levels

The proportion of top grades awarded in GCSE entries has decreased from the previous year, although it remains higher than before the pandemic.

Students in England experienced a more significant drop in grades compared to those in Wales and Northern Ireland, where grade inflation was maintained.

This year, 22.0% of UK GCSE entries achieved at least a 7 or an A grade, which is a decline of 4.3 percentage points from last year’s 26.3%.

However, this figure is still higher than the 2019 pre-pandemic level of 20.8%.

A total of 203,000 fewer top grades (7/A) were awarded compared to the previous year, but there were 142,000 more such grades than in 2019.

The proportion of entries achieving a 4 or a C grade, considered a ‘standard pass,’ dropped from 73.2% in 2022 to 68.2% this year, though still higher than 67.3% in 2019.

The overall rate for grades 1/G or above decreased to 98.0% from 98.4% in 2022.

In terms of regional breakdown, England’s GCSE entries awarded 7/A or above dropped by 4.4 percentage points to 21.6% this year, compared to 21.7% in Wales (down 3.4 points) and 34.5% in Northern Ireland (down 2.5 points).

While England aimed to return grading to pre-pandemic levels, Wales and Northern Ireland expect to achieve this transition next year.

Gender-wise, the lead held by girls over boys for top grades has narrowed.

The gap at grade 4/C has also narrowed.

The most popular subject this year was science double award, followed by mathematics.

Business studies and statistics experienced the most significant percentage increases among subjects with substantial entries, while music saw the largest percentage decrease.

Overall, there were 5,905,000 GCSE entries, up by 3.4% from the previous year.

Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 and other factors, education officials emphasized the importance of getting back to normal grading standards to maintain the value and credibility of GCSEs.

Schools minister Nick Gibb noted that progress in closing the attainment gap for disadvantaged students had been affected by the pandemic.

He stressed the importance of returning to normal grading and acknowledged that some students might experience difficulties, but reassured that support and recovery programs were in place to help them catch up.

The Liberal Democrats raised concerns about the number of lesson hours taught by non-specialist teachers, particularly impacting GCSE pupils in England.

The party called for a comprehensive teacher workforce strategy and other reforms to address these challenges.

On the topic of grade inflation, Gibb emphasized the government’s efforts to eliminate it from the GCSE and A-level systems.

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