It was announced last Friday that GCSE grading would be changed quite dramatically due to pressure from ministers to tighten up the marking system. Exam regulator Ofqual stated that from September 2015 new maths and English GCSE's will be introduced into schools across the UK that will now be graded 1 to 9 rather than A* to G. This is following demands that the current marking system in place is widely discredited due to years of grade inflation, meaning it has been much harder for universities and employers to differentiate between students' abilities. These changes will make it significantly more difficult for pupils to achieve higher grades and as of 2017 figures reveal that fewer than 3% of students will attain the top grades. It has emerged that only the top 20% of pupils who receive a grade 7 or higher will achieve a grade 9. In last years GCSE English results 3.3% of students achieved an A*, however under the new system only 2.8% would have received a grade 9.
Ofqual has yet to decide whether this 20% rule shall be applied to the second portion of GCSE subjects, which are due to be implemented in 2018. Glenys Stacey, chief regulator of Ofqual, stated that the approach in the first year would provide significant statistical data to help ensure that there has been identifiable change from the old system to the new. He says "this will make sure that the year group of students are not disadvantaged or advantaged because of the introduction of the new qualifications, and will provide some certainty about what to expect at this time of significant change."
The new structure will also allow for better global comparisons with high achieving countries such as Finland and Canada. The new grading will bring it approximately in line with the average Programme for International Student Assessment as the grade 5 will be located in the top third of marks for a current grade C and the bottom third of marks for a current grade B.