GCSE results rise in Northumberland after grades U-turn

More pupils in Northumberland got higher grades in their English and maths GCSEs this summer, according to new government figures

Monday, 7th December 2020, 3:00 pm
Top GCSE grades have risen in Northumberland

Department for Education figures show 1,533 students in Northumberland got grades 5 or above in their English and maths GCSEs in the 2019-20 academic year – up from 1,302 the previous summer.

Grade 5 is roughly equivalent to a low B or a high C under the old GCSE grading system.

It means 48.9% of pupils in the area achieved a strong pass in the subjects, 5.6% more than the 43.3% last year.

But this was still slightly lower than the 49.9% of young people to get the higher grades nationally – 6.7 percentage points above 43.2% in 2018-19.

In Northumberland, the average score per pupil across five core subject areas – English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography – also rose, from 3.97 to 4.2.

Nationally, the average rose from 4.07 to 4.38.

The figures follow a Government U-turn earlier this year after exams were cancelled amid the coromavirus pandemic.

Thousands of pupils had their results downgraded by an algorithm but were later given the option to use their teachers’ original predictions after widespread protests.

The Department for Education said the increase reflects the change in how grades were awarded rather than an improvement in standards.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has revealed measures for next year’s exams including “more generous grading” so young people whose learning has been disrupted by Covid-19 are not disadvantaged.

These include more generous grading – in line with the most recent results – and students getting advance notice of some topics covered in their assessments.

Those who miss exams due to illness or self-isolation will get a second chance to sit them.

The National Education Union (NEU) says the changes are welcome but late, and that the most disadvantaged students could miss more school as they are more likely to live in areas with higher infection levels.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said the Government has “at last shown that it is beginning to understand the concerns of teachers, parents and students about next summer’s exams”.