Do you work in education in England?

24 August 2017

From 24 August 2017, GCSE results in England will start to look a little different. For the first time this summer English and maths will be graded 9 to 1 rather than A* to G, with 9 the highest grade, so students who have sat exams this summer will have a mixture of numbers and letters on their certificates and CVs.

The new GCSEs have been introduced to ensure that students leave school better prepared for work or further study. They cover more challenging content and are designed to match standards in the strongest performing education systems elsewhere in the world. Changing from letters to numbers means that employers can see easily whether an applicant has taken an old (unreformed) or a new (reformed) GCSE.

As the new GCSE qualifications start to be awarded with number grades rather than letters, you may want to review your advertising campaigns and update any relevant recruitment materials, training and practices in preparation. The new GCSE grade 4 is broadly equivalent to a low/medium grade C, the standard for a level 2 qualification. If grade C is your current requirement for applicants, then a grade 4 is a reasonable expectation to ask for under the new system, unless you have made a deliberate decision to raise the entry bar.

The Department for Education recognises grade 4 and above as a ‘standard pass’; this is the minimum level that students in England need to reach in English and maths, otherwise they will need to continue to study these subjects as part of their post-16 education. A grade 5 and above indicates a ‘strong pass’ and the DfE will be using this in its headline measures of school performance; a benchmark comparable with the strongest performing education systems.

While the GCSE grading scale in England is changing in all subjects over the course of the next few years, most GCSEs taken by students at schools in Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to be graded A* to G. The grading scales for AS (A to E) and A levels (A* to E) are not changing.

Further information on the new GCSE grading scale, and what is changing when is available on GOV.UK. There are also fact sheets available for employers, parents and higher or further education and those who work in education.

This information was published in the August edition (67) of HMRC’s Employer Bulletin.