GCSEs are changing – this is what it means for manufacturers

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From August 2017, the way GCSEs are graded will be different to previous years. Out goes A* to G and in comes grades 9 to 1. This is important for manufacturers because the Government hopes the new system can better prepare students for work, further and or high education.

Manufacturers recruiting school leavers will need to get to grips with the new grading system, so here are five key things you need to know about the changes to GCSEs from August 2017 onwards:

  • No more A* to G

    GCSEs will be graded on a new scale of 9 to 1 rather than A* to G as before, with 9 being the highest grade to distinguish clearly between the old and new qualifications. So pupils this year will sit the first new GCSEs in English language, English literature and Mathematics, and old exams in all other GCSE subjects. Both the new and old qualifications will be accepted by employers, sixth forms and colleges.


  • Apply to English and Mathematics only

    The new system will only apply to English literature, English Language and Mathematics this year, with the changes to other GCSE subjects being implemented from 2018 onwards. This means that during the transition, pupils will receive a mixture of letter and number grades when they receive their results. Both types of qualification are equally valid.

  • GCSE---image-1

  • New system vs. old system

    The new system will not be directly equivalent to the old one. There are some comparable points, however the new system has more grades. There is more differentiation with the new system, as there are three top grades (7, 8 and 9), compared to two in old system (A and A*). This will mean fewer students will get a grade 9 than previously got an A*.




    As an example, while it is true to say that broadly the same proportion of pupils will get a 4 and above as those who currently get a C and above, it is not true to say a grade 4 is equivalent to a grade C. This is because of the grade 5 above grade 4. So, a grade 4 represents the bottom two thirds of a grade C, while a grade 5 is the equivalent of the top third of grade C and the bottom third of grade B.


  • Standard pass and strong pass

    The Government will no longer report on a ‘good pass’ instead, there will be a standard pass, grade 4, and a strong pass, level 5. A standard pass will a grade 4 and above, this is therefore a similar achievement of grade C. Pupils must achieve grade 4 in the new system in order to not be required to study English or Mathematics post-16. This reflects a change in the content of what pupils learn, which will be rigorous, with more A Level content being taught at GCSE level.


  • Spoken English

Pupils will also be tested on their spoken English, as part of English Language. Pupils will be required to undertake an assessment of speaking skills which will not contribute to their grading of 9-1, instead it will be a separate result either a ‘pass’, ‘merit’, ‘distinction’ or ‘not classified’.

These changes to GCSEs will affect pupils studying English and Mathematics this summer and will mean that applications received by manufacturers from school leavers, and eventually graduates going forward, will now have a mixture of grades in the form of numbers and letters.

To make sure manufacturers are aware and ready for the changes, follow Ofqual’s on LinkedIn and Facebook page for all the latest announcements, and keep an eye for more blogs in the coming weeks.


Education and Skills Policy Advisor

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