Kumon students celebrate GCSE success

Aug 2017

Yesterday pupils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland received their GCSE results in what was of course the first year of the new 'tougher' exams.

There has been a lot of discussion about the new exams and in particular how they are graded. This year for the first time the old familiar system of A* to G has for English literature, English language and maths been replaced by a number score of 1 - 9 with 9 being the highest. Other subjects will adopt this grading system in 2018.

With the new system, what was a C grade equates approximately to a new level 4 with an 8 being roughly what an A* used to be. The new top grade of 9 has been designed to improve differentiation amongst the most able pupils and over time stretch the achievement upwards for all children to help them reach their potential. This year some 3.2% of papers were awarded this grade in English literature, 2.2% in English language and 3.5% in maths. Exam boards revealed that 2,000 extremely able candidates got a 9 in all three new exams. There were 50,000 grade 9s overall, two-thirds of which were achieved by girls.

As with the introduction of the new SATs last year, there have been some concerns about increased stress and anxiety among pupils taking these exams. To help pupils to take exams in their stride and to demonstrate their true potential, at Kumon all students are supported to be able to work at an international standard in maths and English by the end of their first year.

In England, the English literature pass-rate fell 2.5 percentage points to 72%, but in maths it rose from 61.5% to 68.9%. Whilst it is difficult to compare this year's results to previous exams, increasingly the real measure as to whether the new GCSEs have been a success will be with the publication of the international PISA results, which are published every three years.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, told The Guardian: "The government's new gold-standard GCSEs in English and maths have been benchmarked against the best in the world, raising academic standards for pupils. These reforms represent another step in our drive to raise standards, so that pupils have the knowledge and skills they need to compete in a global workplace."

In the previous PISA test in 2015 the UK ranked 27th in the world for maths and 22nd for reading.

At Kumon by tailoring the programmes to each individual and developing key study skills, such as independent learning, dealing with ambiguity and challenge all children are given the tools they'll need to reach their potential with the new exams and beyond.