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NAHT Cymru: GCSE results 2019 show some stability but a system under enormous strain

Congratulating students in Wales receiving their GCSE results today, director of NAHT Cymru, Rob Williams, says: “Once they reflect upon their individual results, every young person will need help and support from families, school staff and others to decide their next steps. 

“Over the last three years Wales has awarded grades in a huge range of newly constituted GCSEs – 28 reformed GCSEs plus two short course GCSEs – a scale of qualification reform, changes in both content and structures, that tests even the most well-prepared and resourced system. 

“When considering that the pupil population has remained stable but the overall GCSE entries have increased by well over 20,000, it is quite pleasing to see that GCSE results have remained broadly stable at A* to A and crept up slightly for A* to C grades. However, at individual subject level, further analysis shows a far more complex and nuanced picture.

“In GCSE Maths, for example, results at A* to A have remained similar to the 2017-18 cohort but have dipped for the A* to C grades – possibly a reflection of an increased proportion of the cohort entering and fewer students entering in November. In English Language A* to A has slightly dipped by 0.4% but A* to C is significantly lower by 4.3% - with a similar picture in English literature. 

“Modern foreign languages have shown some improvement in A* to C this year, but overall entries are continuing their downward trend of recent years. A* to C grades in each of the separate sciences – biology, physics and chemistry – are at their highest levels since before 2016.

“It is clear the overall GCSE results picture is a complex one and, particularly in certain subjects such as English, now requires a more in-depth study to unpick the issues affecting performance. It is also worth noting that despite the difficulties, there has been a slight increase in GCSE outcomes at grade C.

“Changes and educational reform have been undoubtedly necessary, but the most successful systems across the world also appear to enjoy a greater degree of consistency and stability over time and that is what Wales now needs. 

“Without genuine and sustainable financial investment in schools, and time to embed and successfully implement the huge reform programme under way, our children and young people will continue to need to overcome additional, unnecessary obstacles in order to achieve success.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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