Opinion Former Article

GCSE grading reforms will increase the pressure on pupils and schools

Reforms to the GCSE grading system threaten to increase the pressure on pupils and schools, encourage more ‘teaching to the test’ and narrow the range of educational opportunities for young people, representatives at the Annual Conference of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, have warned today.

The Conference in Manchester heard that the introduction of a new grading system will move the goalposts on what is considered to be a ‘good’ pass, with negative consequences for pupils and teachers.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Maintaining high standards of education is critical and it is important that the qualifications system is kept under review to ensure it is meeting the needs of pupils, employers and the further education sector.

“However, these changes have been driven by political imperative, rather than the needs of young people.

“The Government has consistently sought to portray GCSEs as ‘broken’ and ‘dumbed down’ qualifications in order to push through its vision of an elitist, narrowly focused curriculum and qualifications system which risks failing to meet the needs of the majority of young people.

“The changes to exam grading have created huge uncertainty for pupils, teachers, parents and employers which will be difficult for schools to manage.

“Schools already buckling from excessive workload are now facing even more bureaucratic reform and young people, already experiencing rising rates of anxiety and mental ill health, will face even greater pressure to perform.”


NASUWT Press Office contacts:
Ben Padley 07785 463 119
Lena Davies 07867 392 746
Simon Houltby 07920 711 069

Notes to editors
The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at Manchester Central from 14-17 April.

The full text of the motion is below:

Candida Mellor to move,
Keith Page to second:
Conference notes that a good pass was previously considered to be a grade C or above at GCSE and that the new 1-9 system directly links grade C to grade 4.
Conference further notes with concern that a good pass will now be a grade 5.
Conference instructs the National Executive to lobby the Westminster Government and Ofqual to:
(i) provide urgent clarification on the criteria for the new grading system for all subjects and
(ii) review the impact of the new grading system on the prospects of young people.
(North Tyneside)

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