This will be the second year that exams have been disrupted by the pandemic and grades have been determined by teachers' assessments instead of sitting exams.
The pupils are now graded on a numerical system from 9 to 1, rather than from A to E - a grading system that has been brought in alongside a new GCSE curriculum in England.
A 4 is broadly equivalent to a C grade and a 7 is broadly equivalent to an A, with 9 the highest result.
The new grading scheme also means that more top grades are awarded, possibly making the admissions to colleges and sixth forms more competitive.
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GCSE Results Day 2021 as Sheffield pupils receive their grades
Last updated: Thursday, 12 August, 2021, 16:24
- Pupils to receive results from 8am onwards today
- Education Secretary congratulates GCSE students on results day
- Grades are going to be based on teacher assessments instead of exams
- Grades expected to be highest on record
Pupils receiving their GCSEs had been through an “exceptional year”
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said pupils receiving their GCSEs had been through an “exceptional year” because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Gibb said: “This is an exceptional year, designed to make sure that despite the pandemic, despite the fact we had to cancel exams, because it wouldn’t have been fair for children, young people, to sit exams when they’ve had such different experiences of Covid – the different levels of self-isolation and so on – so a teacher-assessed system was the best alternative to make sure they can go on to the next phase of their education or careers.”
He said the Government wanted examinations to return next year, adding: “We’ve already announced the adjustments to the exams – we expect all young people to be taking exams in 2022 but we will be making adjustments to those exams to reflect the fact that this cohort will have had disruption to their education as well.
“And the regulator Ofqual will be saying more about the grading standard that will be used for those exams in the autumn term.”
The schools minister said there will be a push to get back to pre-pandemic achievement levels in the “longer term” following grade inflation during the pandemic.
Asked whether there would be changes to the grading system next year, Nick Gibb told Sky News: “No, what I said was we will be talking about what the grading standard will be for the 2022 exams.
“We are also looking at, in the longer term… how to make sure we get back to the system we had before the pandemic broke where we had year-on-year no grade inflation.
“We want to get back to that system in the longer run but we have to make sure that when we do that, that we are fair between different years, different cohorts – the ones who took their exams in 2020 and 2021, and the students who take their exams in the future.
“It is fairness that lies at the heart of any decisions about grading.
“These are very difficult decisions to make and we will be doing so in conjunction with the regulator, with the exam boards and indeed with teachers and parents and students up and down the country before we come to a firm decision. The issue about the grading system is for the longer term.”
Sheffield school records highest passing rate
Despite 18 months of disruption 245 Y11 students celebrated a total of 2303 GCSE results, a Sheffield school has recorded a whopping 76 percent of students achieved 8 or more GCSE passes and 88% of students achieved a grade 4 or higher in both GCSE English and Maths.
High Storrs School said 73 students achieved at least one grade 9 and 25 students achieved all grade 7 to 9s. Meanwhile, nine students achieved all grade 8s and 9s and two students achieved straight 9s.
Headteacher, Claire Tasker, said: “We are thrilled for our students; anyone who believes that these grades are not as deserved as in previous years lacks any understanding of how rigorous the process to decide these grades was and how hard the students worked to achieve them.
“They have done themselves proud; navigating two lockdowns and some serious disruption. I am equally full of admiration for our HSS staff who have gone above and beyond time and time again to support our students. We are blessed with wonderful families and a strong community too – the success that our students are celebrating is testament to their talent and commitment and also to all those who support them”.
The school said more students than ever enrolled for places at High Storrs Sixth Form for September 21 – many of them are staying on from Year 11.
This year also sees the school’s GCSE cohort secure the grades to take them to a wide variety of post 16 destinations including apprenticeships.
Secretary of Education Gavin Williamson congratulates GCSE students on the day of results
As hundreds of thousands of students collect their GCSE and vocational and technical qualification results today, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson promotes the options available to young people.
While exams remain the fairest and best form of assessment, recognising the unprecedented disruption the pandemic has caused to education, the Government and Ofqual decided it would not be fair for exams to go ahead this year.
Grades instead have been determined by those who know students best – their teachers.
Students were assessed only on what they had been taught and were assessed on multiple pieces of work, giving them their best possible chance to show what they can do.
Students receiving results will have the opportunity to move on to a range of high-quality options. This is the second year that young people can move on to study T Levels, with seven new subject choices available from September, including Healthcare, Science and Onsite Construction.
Today’s GCSE results follow results for AS, A level and vocational technical qualifications on Tuesday, which enabled more than 190,000 18-year-olds in England to take up their first choice university place.
The results showed an increase in grades for students from all backgrounds, and Ofqual report that the assessment approach this year is likely to have helped prevent previous gaps from widening as much as they would have done without this year’s grading process.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Students should feel proud of their achievements and will now be looking forward to taking their next steps.
“I am also hugely grateful to teachers and school leaders for their hard work to ensure students get the grades they deserve and need to progress to the next stage of their lives.
“There have never been so many great options available for young people, whether that’s going on to study A levels, our pioneering T Levels, starting an apprenticeship or a traineeship.
“ Whatever option young people choose, they can do so with the confidence it will give them the skills and knowledge to get on in life.”