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How the top grades will be awarded for new GCSEs in 2017 and beyond

Ofqual has confirmed how top grades 8 and 9 will be awarded in the first and subsequent years of results for reformed GCSEs.   

Its consultation put forward proposals on the awarding grades 9 to 1 in other subjects and including a change to their previous decisions for English language, English literature and mathematics about how grades 8 and 9 are to be set in the first year of awarding.

The same approach will be used for the first awards of grades 1 to 7 in all new GCSEs as has already been confirmed for new GCSEs in English language, English literature and mathematics. However, there will be change to how grades 8 and 9 are awarded. NAHT agrees that the modified approach proposed by Ofqual seems the most sensible and equitable way to award those grades.

We were concerned about Ofqual's proposal to apply this change to the awarding of English and maths in 2017, which marked a change to what had been previously announced. it seems unfair to change the goal posts for this cohort once the course has been started. However, although Ofqual state that they try to avoid changing a position that they have already announced, in this case, they believe it is necessary to do so to introduce an approach that is appropriate and consistent across all reformed GCSEs.

Ofqual has also confirmed that the first award of all new GCSEs will be based primarily on statistical predictions with examiner judgement playing a secondary role and that the grade standard established in the first award will be carried forward in the second and subsequent years. NAHT highlighted in our consultation response preference for an approach where the grade standard established in the first award informs, but is not necessarily the absolute, standard for subsequent years. There is a need to retain a more flexible approach in the first few years of awarding the reformed qualifications given the extent of change and lack of stability throughout the system. We are pleased that Ofqual agrees that it will be important to review the awards made on an annual basis and have made a commitment to 'appraise the approach taken to awarding annually'.

You can find a detailed analysis of the responses and decisions here