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GCSE pass rates fall amid biggest exam shake-up in generation

PUBLISHED: 10:43 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:53 24 August 2017

Students sit exams. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA

Students sit exams. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA

Press Association Images

Overall UK GCSE pass rates have fallen this year amid the biggest shake-up of exams in a generation.

Among 16-year-olds in England, around 18,600 maths entries scored a 9 – the new highest grade, while almost 31,000 achieved the top mark in the two English GCSEs combined.

Under the overhaul, traditional A* to G grades are being gradually replaced in England with a 9 to 1 system.

English and maths – key GCSEs for all teenagers – are the first to move across, with other subjects following over the next two years.

Today’s figures show that across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the proportion of entries scoring at least an A grade – or a 7 under the new system – has fallen by 0.5 percentage points to 20per cent compared to last summer, while the percentage gaining a C or above – or a 4 under the new system – is down 0.6 percentage points to 66.3pc.

The statistics, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), show that among 16-year-olds in England:

:: In maths, 3.5pc of entries - 18,617 in total - scored a 9

:: In English, 2.6pc of entries - 13,754 in total - scored a 9

:: In English literature, 3.3pc - 17,187 in total - scored a 9

:: Girls outperformed boys in 9 grades in both English GCSEs, while boys did better in maths at the highest result

Fewer candidates have achieved a 9 compared to the proportion that gained an A* under the traditional A* to G grading system, following the deliberate move to change the system to allow more differentiation, particularly between the brightest candidates.

Last year, 4pc of 16-year-olds in England scored an A* in English language, along with 7pc in maths.

The grading switch is part of wider reforms designed to make GCSEs more rigorous and challenging.

There are now three top grades – 7, 8 and 9 – compared to two under the old system – A* and A – with A* results now split into 8s and 9s.

Early figures show that around 2,000 students in England scored a clean sweep of top grades under the new system, gaining 9s in English, English literature and maths.

In addition, 38,050 teenagers scored at least three 7s – equivalent to A grades – in the three subjects.

Girls secured around two-thirds of the 9 grades awarded, exam boards said.

Send all your GCSE results pictures and stories to james.scott@archant.co.uk and check out our exam results homepage for the latest news from schools across the borough.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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