‘The Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual announced changes in 2013 to the content and structure of GCSEs taken by students in schools across England. The new GCSEs have been taught in schools since September 2015, and the first new set of exams are set to take place in the summer of 2017.
According to editor of the education newspaper Schools Week, Laura McInerney, though, “the signs of catastrophe are already there” and the “radical transformation” has not been sitting well with both parents and teachers alike.’ - Independent
Writing in the Guardian, McInerney said: ‘So what are the planned changes? First, GCSE grades will shift from letters (A* to G) to numbers (9 to 1). Not all subjects will move at once, though. For a few years pupils will receive a combination of letters and numbers. This might not be so bad if there were a method for directly converting one to the other – as with Britain’s old and new currencies back in 1971. But the government deliberately designed the system so things don’t equate. A grade 4 will be similar to a low-ish C grade, but not quite the same. This will make it difficult for employers and universities to compare candidates in the next few years.
The exams themselves are also changing. The government plans to make them more “rigorous”. This plays well for politicians, who can excuse any dip in results on the grounds that the questions got harder rather than schools got worse. It is (again) less helpful for employers trying to work out the exam currency exchange rate, and very awkward for headteachers, who are under pressure to show improvements.
Finally, there are changes afoot in the way schools, as a whole, are measured. At present, they are judged on the proportion of pupils achieving a C grade or above in any five subjects, including English and maths. This has led to teachers focusing energies on the pupils most at risk of falling just under a C, and putting less effort into teaching very high- or low-ability pupils.’ - Guardian