More pupils achieve the highest GCSE grades


The percentage of pupils achieving an A/7 or above at GCSE has increased for the first time in seven years.

Overall, 20.5% of GCSE entrants gained the higher grades, representing a 0.5% jump from a year ago, and marking the first time the figure has increased since 2011.

The proportion of pupils achieving the recognised pass mark of C/4 or above also rose by 0.5 percentage points, from 66.4% to 66.9%.

Direct comparisons between past results are difficult, however, as an additional 20 subjects are now using the new 1-9 grading system, first introduced for maths, English language and English literature a year ago.

The top marks

Around 4.5% of GCSE entries achieved the sought-after grade 9, with the highest mark given out approximately 187,000 times.

Around 5.2% of girls and 3.8% of boys achieved the highest possible grade in a subject, while 732 pupils that took seven or more GCSEs achieved a grade 9 in every subject.

Exam regulators stressed that nines are “harder to get” as the reformed tests look to stretch and be more demanding for pupils at the top end.

Both Derek Richardson, vice president and senior responsible office at Pearson, and OCR director of regulation and business performance Mark Bedlow revealed that is the case.

Boys narrow the gap

When focusing on both the proportion that achieves the top grades and those gaining a standard pass, boys have narrowed the gap on girls in both instances.

Around 17.2% of GCSEs by males were given an A/7 grade – up by 0.8% on 2017 – while 23.7% of girls achieved those grades, the same proportion as last year.

It means the gap between the sexes has narrowed to 6.5 percentage points this year, compared to 7.3 percentage points 12 months ago.

The Department for Education views a C/4 to be a standard pass and the number of male entries achieving that grade also rose – 62.3% of boys achieved the grade this year, up from 61.6% last year.

This is a testament to hard work and dedication of secondary school teachers who have embraced the reformed subjects and examinations.