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Low GCSE scores ‘sending a demoralising message’

HEADTEACHERS have warned that teenagers getting GCSE results today will get a ‘demoralising message’ from exam scores lowered by new grading.

School leaders said a ‘better way’ needs to be found to recognise the achievement of 16-year-olds who score lower than a 4 — equivalent to last year’s C — in the tougher new courses.

Last year, one in five GCSE entries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland scored at least an A — 7 under the new system — while two-thirds scored at least C.

In the biggest shake-up for a generation, GCSEs have been made harder and traditional A*-G grades replaced with a 9-1 system, with 9 the highest.

According to research by Cambridge Assessment, only 200 GCSE students are likely to score all 9s this year. Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘Our concern is over those pupils taking exams which are harder than their predecessors and who have been told by the government that a grade 4 is a standard pass and a grade 5 is a strong pass.

‘That is a very demoralising message to those who achieve grades 1, 2 and 3, and the new system does not work very well for them. We need a better way to credit their achievements.’

It has been suggested that grade boundaries could be lower this year.

Mr Trobe said: ‘If grade boundaries have to be set very low, this indicates that the exam is so difficult that many candidates have been unable to answer a significant proportion of the paper. This increases stress and anxiety.’