‘We don’t want chaos and confusion’: Meet the woman behind the new GCSE grades

The Telegraph reports that for thousands of parents up and down the country, three weeks today will bring a feeling of apprehension, as GCSE results day rolls around. In Cath Jadhav’s case, though, the hope that everything runs smoothly will be especially acute.

As well as being the mother of 16-year-old Luke, one of those pupils nervously awaiting August 24, Jadhav is the Associate Director of Standards and Comparability at Ofqual – the Government department that regulates qualifications in England. Effectively, it is her job to ensure the entire GCSE programme is successful. And this year, she has overseen its biggest upheaval in decades.

Instead of the A* to G grades by which GCSE pupils have been assessed since the mid-Nineties, candidates who took English language, literature and maths exams in 2017 will be marked under a numerical system that ranges from 9-1. Another 10 or so subjects will follow suit next year, before the whole curriculum is on board by 2019.

“At the moment, around 60% of GCSE results are Bs or Cs, and when we spoke to employers and people in higher education, they said they wanted a way of knowing the difference between everyone.”

Ofqual is at pains to emphasise against direct comparisons but, roughly speaking, an old A is a new 7, an old C is a 4, and an old G (not that you’d ever wish to acquaint yourself with a G) is a 1. The idea, they say, is that the same proportion of students will get a 4 and above as currently achieve a C grade or higher, and broadly the same proportion of students will get a 7 as are currently graded A. It means there will be a greater spread, but fewer top grades. So a set of ‘straight 9s’ will be harder to achieve than an ol

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d set of straight As.

There are plenty of parents of teenagers working at Ofqual, Jadhav adds, and she is keen that the organisation isn’t seen as a bunch of “faceless bureaucrats” – shaking things up without consideration for the pupils. 

So where will the family be three weeks today, as results – and Ofqual – hit the headlines?

“Oh, I have a holiday booked,” she says, with a laugh. “We’re going to West Wales, where there will be no WiFi and no e-mail. It will be good to go off-grid, I think.”

Read more ‘We don’t want chaos and confusion’: Meet the woman behind the new GCSE grades

What do you think? Are pupils, parents, teachers and employees ready for the change? Has there been enough explanation of the new grading system? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Comments

  1. wasateacher

    Even more confusingly, my Grade 1 Maths ‘O’ Level is now equivalent to a grade 9 under the new grading. The good news is the my Grade 9 Latin seems like a huge achievement considering my dislike of the subject. “Quam quam sunt sub acqua” (if I remember it correctly).

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