It’s been the turn of Level 2 and GCSE results this week where there’s been considerable interest in the so-called ‘forgotten third,’ grade boundaries, extended Key stage 3s and the stress of exams generally. Summary details below.
In other education news this week, digests and discussion on last week’s A’ level exams have continued, with the analysis of entries and outcomes by Cairneagle Associates on the HEPI website an example of many useful reads. As for Clearing, this too has been in full swing following last week’s A’ level results with UCAS reporting record numbers. Elsewhere, the government has set out how T levels will be graded and what will be on the final certificate, quite a lot by all accounts, as well as what UCAS tariff points they will attract. It has also announced further expansion of the important National Retraining Scheme, the scheme that helps eligible adults gain new skills, which will be tested in two more regions shortly and rolled out in three more later this year.
Further afield, Ofsted published the results from its latest annual teachers’ survey indicating a notable cooling off about Ofsted by teachers, the Association of Colleges (AoC) lined up ten priorities for the Treasury to consider as part of next month’s spending round, and Mary Curnock Cook wrote an interesting blog on why she’d changed her tune on PQA (post qualification admissions) following UCAS’s review into the whole thing when she was boss of UCAS a few years back.
But back to the headline news this week in the shape of the GCSE results. Most of the GCSEs are now in their reformed format, a further 25 were included this year, but questions remain about whether they’re too demanding, how far they’re suitable for all and that perennial one about whether we still need a full set of exams at age 16. The government may thus be reassured that both the pass rate and the percentage of papers achieving a top grade this year were up slightly. In terms of emerging themes, three stand out.
First, there’re still concerns about the EBacc effect. Yes entries were up for EBacc subjects by 3.7% notably in some languages and humanities but the drop in D/T entries suggests non EBacc subjects may be suffering. Is, as the NAHT’s Paul Whiteman put it, the concept of a general education at 16 being lost? Second, the English/maths resit issue remains live with the entry rate for 17 year olds up but a mixed story on the pass rate. Are the reformed Functional Skills the answer, should the try, try and try again resit policy be scrapped; Labour think so. And third, the strong performance by girls this year disproves the theory that they wouldn’t be able to hack linear exams…they have, including in Physics.