Top grade is not vital for job or university, GCSE pupils told

The Times is reporting that teenagers should not put themselves under undue pressure to achieve the top grade in the new GCSEs, according to the leader of Britain’s private schools.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, is interviewed about the reform of GCSEs, and the new grade 9, which will replace A*.

He says that universities that ask for a set number of A*s at GCSE would not distinguish between a grade 8 or 9 for the first few years.

Ofqual, the exams regulator, has split the A* grade in two to provide greater differentiation for the brightest students but the process has been controversial and technically complex.

Mr Lenon, a board member of Ofqual, is quoted as saying:

“They [universities] are not going to use grade 9 to start with because they won’t know whether it identifies good students, how reliable it is, whether there is a difference between different subjects.

“They should in future specify 8/9s, not 9s, because it would be potentially catastrophic for them. We advised universities not to use A* at A level in the early years.”

More at: Top grade is not vital for job or university, GCSE pupils told (Subscription required)

What do you think? Is the new grading system going to cause major issues? Should pupils not worry too much about gaining a 9 in the first round of results? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter ~ Jon

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  1. The new numbering system is farcical.  Ask most people what they think a Grade 1 GCSE means and they’ll say ‘top grade’.  Vice versa – grade 9 will be thought of a the very bottom.   Unis won’t make this mistake, of course, but the general public including many employers will.  Pupils with these new grades, especially the mishmash of grades in the next few years, will have to spend a great deal of time explaining the new system.

  2. Which of the new numbers will be regarded as ‘good’? The National Careers Service says the new 4 will be equivalent to a C.  That means five numbers (5, 6, 7, 8, 9) will be the equivalent of just three grades (B, A and A*).  At the same time, three numbers (1, 2, 3) will replace four grades (G, F, E, D).  This suggests the numbered grades 4-9 will be more finely differentiated than at present while the lower grades (1-3) will not be.   And where will grade boundaries be set?  Does anyone know?  Or will that wait until after exam marking so Ofqual can ensure only a set proportion get each grade?

Let us know what you think...