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Harder GCSEs demoralising for students, schools warn

TOUGH new GCSEs are ‘demoralising’ for lower-achieving pupils, headteachers have warned.

Eight in ten believe the reformed courses are having a detrimental effect on struggling teenagers.

And a similar proportion are concerned that they are causing higher levels of student stress.

Pupils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are due to receive their GCSE results today.

Under the biggest shake-up for a generation, GCSEs have been toughened up, with less coursework and exams at the end rather than throughout.

Traditional A*-G grades have been scrapped and replaced with a 9-1 system, with 9 the highest result. A 4 is equivalent to a C grade, and a 7 an A. The Association of School and College Leaders said it was concerned the overhaul had ‘sacrificed the interests’ of the most vulnerable students for the ‘supposed benefits of raising the bar for the most able’.

A survey of more than 500 ASCL members found that 98 per cent think the new GCSEs are more difficult than the old courses.

Most of those questioned believed that they had a detrimental affect on pupils with lower prior attainment, and are causing higher levels of student stress.

One assistant head said: ‘I cannot think of anything more dispiriting than going through school thinking every day “I cannot do this”. But that is the reality for many students.’