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Hadleigh High School

GCSE Reforms

The landscape of GCSEs is changing dramatically over the next few years. With the United Kingdom consistently trailing PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) the Department for Education is keen to push through educational reform to challenge students across the country and improve the UK’s international ranking.

As of September 2015, schools across the country have begun teaching the new GCSE curriculum in preparation for the first in a new line of exams in 2017. “Progress 8”; a new accountability measure aimed at assessing the progress of students across a selected set of eight subjects has been introduced alongside another linked new measure called “Attainment 8.” These new school performance measures along with new assessment criteria all stem from a governmental determination to ‘toughen up’ our exam system.

Those subjects that are included in the performance tables will no longer have the traditional grading system. Gone are the days of A*, A, B right through to an U, GCSEs will now graded from a nine at the top of the grading scale to a one at the other end.  The diagram below helps explain how certain new numerical grades compare with the old alpha grades.  As a rule of thumb a new grade 4 can be compared with an old grade C and a new grade 7 can be compared with an old grade A.




Students can no longer rely upon coursework to bolster their examination scores as the reforms now see a return to O-level style examinations.  From now on, students will take all of their exams at the end of year 11 and will be required to learn a much wider and more demanding content base.

Exam answer papers will also now be expected to contain accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar and as a consequence in some subjects a percentage of marks will be attributed accordingly.

Help for parents

For further information regarding these changes please follow the link below:


If you have any questions relating to this please contact Mr Etchingham, Assistant Headteacher.