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News - 5 August 2013

Ofqual: More pupils taking GCSEs earlier

fqual, the exam regulator, has published figures showing that almost a quarter of pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are taking GCSE maths this year are under 16. They also published figures from the previous year showing tens of thousands of pupils had taken GCSE maths more than once, using different exam boards for the same subject.

Ofqual chief Glenys Stacey warned such "tactics" affect overall GCSE results.
Speaking before this month's GCSE results, Ms Stacey revealed an "emerging picture" of how results might be different this year and the underlying factors.

Lavinia Newman, founder of ABDS comments:
“There were more pupils taking GCSEs earlier than the usual 16-year-old age group. This allows high-flying pupils to get exams out of the way, but it can also be used as a way of allowing pupils a second chance at an exam, with the option of trying to improve grades the following year.”

Science grades for this year are likely to be lower overall, with tougher standards and new qualifications being introduced. It will mean that a C grade this summer will require a higher level than last year. If the performance of pupils this year were the same as last year, this would mean fewer reaching A*, A, B and C grades.

Ofqual also highlighted that many pupils are using different exam boards, or had taken units from different courses particularly among pupils on the borderline of a C grade - important for pupils and for school league table rankings.

Last year there were angry protests and a legal challenge after controversial GCSE English results. And this year has brought a surge in pupils taking an alternative qualification, IGCSE English, up from 18,000 in 2012 to 78,000 this time, with many of these assumed to be taking GCSE English as well.

These disputed English results were part of the first fall in overall results since GCSEs were introduced 24 years before. The provisional GCSE figures published last August showed a drop of 0.4% in the proportion of pupils achieving A* to C grades - down to 69.4% - compared with the previous year's provisional results.

National Union of Teachers' leader Christine Blower warned: "When accusations fly that schools are somehow gaming the system, it is often the case that a blind eye is turned to the malign influence of Ofsted benchmarks and ever-changing floor targets from government."

If you need any help and advice with Free School or Academy Schools, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail:

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