GCSE success as more pupils awarded top grades


Due to the current unprecedented period, it has been a relief for many students across the country to see an increase year on year for awarded GCSE grades. 

Education secretary Gavin Williamson described the results as an exciting moment for young people and said pupils should feel proud of “all they’ve achieved in the face of immense challenge and uncertainty”.

“I also want to pay a special tribute to teachers and school leaders this year who have shown dedication, resilience and ingenuity to support their students to get to this moment,” he added.

More than three quarters of GCSE entries in England were awarded a grade 9-4 in 2020, a rise of nearly nine percentage points from last year.

The proportion of pupils gaining a grade 7 or higher also increased, with results based on standardised grades or centre assessed grades, dependent on which was highest.

Some 76% of pupils achieved a grade 4 or above, which is considered a pass, up from 67.1% of pupils in 2019.

A total of 27.6% of entries were given a grade 7 or above, up from 21.9% a year previously, which equates to around 1.3 million awarded grades.

The proportion of top performers – those achieving a grade 9 – surged by 1.9 percentage points to account for 6.6% of all grades.

Several creative subjects saw large increases in the proportion of pupils achieving a grade 7 or above, including music, performing and expressive arts and drama.

Others to see a rise of at least ten percentage points in the proportion achieving a 7 or higher included economics, engineering and ‘other sciences’.

In addition, both biology and German saw large increases at grade 7, with the latter a result of Ofqual’s attempts to better align the grading for GCSE French and German with Spanish.