Suffolk/Essex: First GCSE results belie the warnings over grades

Thousands of pupils will be opening their GCSE result envelopes today

Thousands of pupils will be opening their GCSE result envelopes today - Credit: PA

There was early encouragement as the first GCSE results were reported in Suffolk and Essex this morning, despite fears that some papers would see lower grades.

Some schools were reporting improved grades, with a high percentage of pupils achieving five or more A* -Cs. The results – from a small number of schools so far – appear to counter speculation that pupils would miss out on expected grades in core subjects due to tightened marking.

But one senior headteacher has said it will be important to see the full picture later today, with some schools apparently “distraught”.

Ofqual, heavily criticised for last year’s GCSE marking controversy that left about 2,000 of the county’s children with lower than predicted grades after changes to marking boundaries, have themselves warned that English, maths and science results were likely to “look different”.

They claimed there could be a drop in grades due to tighter marking, tougher exams and different patterns of entry.

Speaking yesterday, Geoff Barton, headteacher of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, said: “What I am getting from other schools is that some are really pleased and other people are distraught. It will be interesting to get the broader picture, which appears to be what Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders has said – it is a year of turbulence and unpredictability.”

Mr Barton said early analysis of results at his school suggested that English results were up, maths were stable and science was slightly down – in line with Ofqual’s predictions.

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Last night the region’s schools and colleges pledged to work together to help students, whatever their grades. Mary Gleave, associate principal at Suffolk New College, Ipswich, said they were willing and able to work with students that receive lower than expected grades today. She added: “The college is very inclusive and we will work with young people who may be potentially not getting the grades they were expecting.”

Glenys Stacey, chief exams regulator, said Ofqual’s main role was ensuring that exam standards were set and maintained and this was what they were doing. She added: “We want to make sure that whatever exam board you are sitting that you will get the right results.”