New GCSE grades

There are a number of changes in GCSE courses and examinations over the next few years. The following provides you with some information on the key changes.

  • The "old" GCSE English and Maths finished in Summer 2016 for our current Year 11 students.  This year group will take the new GCSEs in English and Mathematics in Summer 2017.
  • Other GCSEs will also end over the next few years.  Some will completely cease; others will be replaced by "new" GCSEs.
  • "New" GCSEs will have different grading systems.  Instead of A* - G, they will have grades 9 to 1 where 9 is the highest.
  • "New" GCSEs will be more demanding and use end of course examinations (and as little coursework as possible).


From September 2016

English Language, English Literature and Maths GCSE courses will change and will be assessed differently, with students achieving grades 9-1 rather than A*-G at the end of Summer 2017 and onwards.  Other subjects will come on line after this.

Explaining the new GCSE grades; comparing these to the “old” ones


The table on the left shows the connection between the “old” grades and “new “ grades.  The “good pass” grade for the old GCSE was set at grade C; the new “good pass” grade will be set at a higher standard.  The government intends that:

  • broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 4+ as currently achieve a grade C+
  • grade 5 will be awarded to roughly:
    • the top third of students gaining the equivalent of a grade C AND
    • the bottom third of students gaining the equivalent of a grade B
  • broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 7+ as currently achieve a grade A+ 


What will this mean for students?

  • The new 5 grade is at a higher level than the old C grade.
  • This means less students will achieve this than the old C. 
  • If students do not get a 5 or higher on the new exam, they don’t get
    what the government is going to call a “good pass”.
  • Two thirds of students who used to get a C will not get a grade 5 in the new GCSE.
  • In the future, those who don’t get a 5 or better will have to continue
    to take English and/or Mathematics at post 16. 
  • The government may accept grade 4 for the first year or so of the new system.
  • Entry to post 16 courses will need at least a 4 or 5 in either English or Mathematics.
  • Entry to some courses at post 16 will need grades 5 or 6 in English, Mathematics or both.



The BLUE Year group ending KS4 in Summer 2017

This is the first year group that will take any of the new GCSE examinations.  However, we will enter for these “old” exams in English Language and Mathematics at the end of Year 10 to help them prepare for these new extra demanding examinations. They will take the “new” national English and Mathematics examinations in Summer Year 11 (and will get grades 9 to 1 for these).  Other subjects will still be awarded a grade A*-G when they take them.

Why we took a GCSE (old style) at the end of Year 10 (SUMMER 2016) for the BLUE year group?

We are committed to providing all of our students with the very best chance of reaching their potential and our approach is designed with that in mind.  Reasons for this approach include:

  • It will develop examination practice, and we will be able to use the question-by-question feedback to let individual students know how to improve.
  • It remains a valid qualification.  Previous year groups will have these grades and have followed this course.
  • The C+ grade allows students to show that they have the same skills at a “good grade” as previous year groups and compete for jobs, courses etc.
  • It gives students a real life examination with outcomes that count, and allows the department to prepare students across all the mathematics or English they have learnt to date.
  • It provides an excellent basis for the next steps in Year 11.
  • Both examinations use the same skills so students are advantaged by practice and application.


The YELLOW year group ending KS4 in Summer 2018

This year group will take the new GCSE examinations, gaining grades 9 to 1, for most subjects at GCSE.  A few subjects will still have the old A* to G outcomes.  We may still enter the Yellow year groups for English and Mathematics examinations at the end of Year 10 if we think this will help their future progress.  Currently, we await more information on the new examinations.

The RED year group ending KS4 in Summer 2019

Nearly all the GCSE examinations for this year group will be “new” GCSEs with the 9 to 1 gradings.

The GREEN year group ending KS4 in Summer 2020 and following year groups

By this time, all GCSE examinations should be on the new 9 to 1 gradings.  However, this year group is also the year group targeted by the government to take the EBacc group of subjects.  This would mean they only have a maximum of two option choices at KS4 as nearly all students would be expected to take English, Mathematics, Science, Languages, Geography or History.  It is not yet clear whether this restriction on course choice will be enforced by the government.