GCSE results day for thousands of students
As students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their GCSE results today, they reveal a downward trend in achievement - to the lowest level since 2008.
The overall proportion of entries achieving A* to C has dipped by 2.1% points to 66.9%.
Top A* grades have dropped by 0.1% points to 6.5%.
When looking at outcomes for 16 year olds, the target age for GCSEs, the Joint Council for Qualifications, JCQ, points out the reduction is less pronounced: grade A* is down 0.1 percentage points, grade A*-A down 0.6 percentage points, and grade A*-C down 1.3 percentage points.
Commenting on the publishing of GCSE results, Michael Turner, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications, JCQ, said: “There is significant movement in this year’s entries, which impacts on results and creates a very complex national picture. We see shifts not only between subjects, but also across qualifications and year groups. This is driven by several factors, including performance measures and resit policies in England.
“I would like to offer huge congratulations to all students picking up their results today. It is also important to congratulate and thank their teachers, tens of thousands of whom each year use their expertise to mark the millions of examination papers.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said: “We congratulate pupils receiving GCSE results today, and commend their hard work over the last two years. Teachers and school leaders can also take pride in today’s results, which would not be possible without their tireless effort and dedication.
"GCSE results day is a nervous time for all, as much depends on these grades. 2016 is worse than ever in this regard as the results are so unpredictable following wave after wave of over hasty changes. Such overwhelming change introduces mistakes and makes it hard to sustain a calm focus on teaching.
“There is a drop in the results in both English and maths. This is mainly a result of new requirements leading to a significant increase in post 16 entries to these subjects; the cohort looks very different to last year."
Today's results are the last before a major change will impact on how GCSEs are graded in England, and how school performance is measured.
Sounding a warning to the government, the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said the “rushed and incoherent manner” in which the forthcoming reforms to the GCSE system have been introduced must never be repeated.
Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT, said the results mark the last year in England in which all GCSE results are graded using the letter-based system, with the introduction from September of numerical grades.
"This apparently minor change masks the most substantial reform in a quarter of a century to the key general qualification offered to learners in England.
“The content and structure of the new GCSEs are very different from those they are replacing.
“Whatever view is taken of the new GCSEs, it is clear that their implementation has been rushed, poorly thought through and undertaken without meaningful consultation with the teaching profession.
“The late release of exam specifications and other key information about the new GCSEs has created excessive and wholly avoidable burdens on already overstretched teachers and school leaders.”
More than 9,500 people called the Exam Results Helpline last year for advice and once again the helpline, funded by the department for education is ready to help students who want to discuss their options.
Over 40 careers advisers are available to speak to students on the dedicated phone number 0808 100 8000.