Hundreds more Sheffield pupils get higher GCSEs

Hundreds more pupils in Sheffield got higher grades in their English and maths GCSEs this summer, according to government figures for schools across the area.

Tuesday, 8th December 2020, 1:09 pm

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has revealed measures for next year’s exams including “more generous grading” so young people whose learning has been disrupted by Covid-19 are not disadvantaged.

The National Education Union says the changes are welcome but late, and that the most disadvantaged students across England could miss more school as they are more likely to live in areas with higher infection levels.

Department for Education figures show 2,581 students in Sheffield got grades 5 or above in their English and maths GCSEs in the 2019-20 academic year – up from 2,025 the previous summer.

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Grade 5 is roughly equivalent to a low B or a high C under the old GCSE grading system.

It means 46.4 per cent of pupils in the area achieved a strong pass in the subjects, 7.6 percentage points more than 38.8 per cent last year.

But this was still lower than the 49.9 per cent of young people to get the higher grades across England as a whole – 6.7 percentage points above 43.2 per cent in 2018-19.

In Sheffield, the average score per pupil across five core subject areas – English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography – also rose, from 3.87 to 4.12. Nationally, the average rose from 4.07 to 4.38.

The Government performed a U-turn on grades earlier this year after exams were cancelled amid the pandemic.

Thousands of pupils had their results downgraded by an algorithm but were later given the option to use their teachers’ original predictions after widespread protests.

The DfE said the increase reflects the change in how grades were awarded rather than an improvement in standards.

The new measures for next year’s exams announced by Mr Williamson include more generous grading than usual, in line with the most recent results.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the Government has “at last shown that it is beginning to understand the concerns of teachers, parents and students about next summer’s exams”.