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GCSE results: Top grades fall in England but remain above 2019 levels

The proportion of GCSE entries awarded top grades fell from last year but was higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic, national figures showed.

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the country received their GCSE exam results on Thursday in a year when efforts have been made in England to return grading to pre-pandemic levels.

More than a fifth (22.0 per cent) of UK GCSE entries were awarded the top grades – at least a 7 or an A grade – this year, down by 4.3 percentage points on last year when 26.3 per cent of entries achieved the top grades. This remains higher than the equivalent figure for 2019 – before the pandemic – of 20.8 per cent.

In London, 28.4 per cent of entries were awarded top grades, significantly higher than the national figure.

This remained 4.2 percentage points down on last year, which saw 32.6 per cent of entries achieve top grades, but higher than the 2019 figure of 25.7 per cent.

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there were around 203,000 fewer top grades compared with last year, but there were 142,000 more top grades awarded this year than in 2019, according to the figures published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Students across the country wake up to GCSE results

09:12 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Good morning, and welcome to the Standard’s GCSE liveblog.

We’ll be bringing you all the latest developments and reaction throughout the morning.

Returning grading to 2019 levels is ‘fair', says Schools Minister

09:17 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Schools minister Nick Gibb has said “it is fair to have the grading back to 2019 levels”.

“We want to return to 2019 grading standards,” he told Times Radio this morning. “We want to get back to normal so we make sure that we retain the value and credibility of GCSEs and A-levels.”

He added: “These young people have been in schools for two years, they have had disruption to their education particularly in years eight and nine and we have had very significant recovery programmes, a £5 billion recovery programme to help those young people catch up.

“But it is important to get back to normal. Exams are the fairest system, and it is fair to have the grading back to 2019 levels consistent to all the years prior to 2019 and consistent with the years next year and the year beyond as well.”

GCSE top grades fall but remain above pre-pandemic levels

09:34 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The proportion of GCSE entries awarded top grades has fallen from last year but is higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic, national figures show.

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the country received their GCSE exam results on Thursday in a year when efforts have been made in England to return grading to pre-pandemic levels.

More than a fifth (22.0 per cent) of UK GCSE entries were awarded the top grades – at least a 7 or an A grade – this year, down by 4.3 percentage points on last year when 26.3 per cent of entries achieved the top grades.

However, this remains higher than the equivalent figure for 2019 – before the pandemic – of 20.8 per cent.

The figures, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), cover GCSE entries from students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Overall, there were around 203,000 fewer top grades (7/A) compared with last year, but there were 142,000 more top grades awarded this year than in 2019.

The proportion of entries getting at least a 4 or a C grade – considered a “standard pass” – has fallen from 73.2 per cent in 2022 to 68.2 per cent this year – a drop of five percentage points, but higher than 67.3 per cent in 2019

London results keep in line with national trends

09:39 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Trends seen in the capital’s GCSE results this year have mirrored those seen nationally.

The number of pupils attaining top grades in the capital was significantly higher than the national average, with 28.4 per cent of London entries were awarded top grades, compared to a national figure of 22 per cent.

But similar to national picture, the London figure has dropped by 4.2 percentage points compared to last year, which saw 32.6 per cent of entries achieve top grades.

It remains higher than the 2019 figure of 25.7 per cent.

Boy who travelled three hours a day to get to school celebrates top grades across the board

09:49 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Student Shivam Gogna is among those celebrating top grades in his GCSEs, despite having to travel nearly three hours a day to get to school.

When Shivam’s family moved to Ipswich in Suffolk, he insisted on continuing his studies at Forest Gate Community School in Newham, which has been ranked in the top 50 for GCSE exam results for the last six years in a row.

Shivam Gogna receiving his GCSE results on Thursday (Tayfun Salci)
Shivam Gogna receiving his GCSE results on Thursday (Tayfun Salci)

“It has among the best exam results in the country so I wanted to stay to do my GCSEs here,” said Shivam.“The school ran extra revision classes before and after school everyday during Year 11. It meant I sometimes left home at 6am and didn’t get home for 12 or 13 hours.”His hard work paid off, scoring top grades in all his exams. Shiva, will now study A-levels in maths, economics and accounting.His teacher at Forest Gate Community School, Thomas Leather, said: “He deserves great results move than most. He never missed a revision session, an intervention or even a class during the whole of year 11.“He dedicated herself completely to getting the best possible results and her hard work has paid off. He is a shining example to her fellow students.”

Sadiq Khan congratulates Londoners on results

09:53 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan praised London pupils for their results, and offered reassurance to those who did not do as well as they had hoped.

“I would like to congratulate every young Londoner who is receiving their GCSE results today,” he said.

“This is a proud day for students, their families, friends and teachers and it’s so important that we recognise the hard work, dedication, and commitment from everyone who has helped these young people reach this milestone in their lives.

“I hope that you received the grades you were expecting or hoped for today, but if things haven’t gone to plan, please be reassured that there are many different pathways to success and I would encourage everyone to explore potential options by talking to your teachers, parents, or contact the National Careers Service for advice and support.”

Jamie Oliver shares uplifting GCSE results day message

09:58 , Bill Mcloughlin

Jamie Oliver has shared a supportive message to children with dyslexia as they receive their GCSE results.

In a post, the TV chef said results day “can be a stressful time” but that the educational system does not “play to their strengths”.

Hornchurch pupil praises French teacher for ‘pivotal role’ in high marks

10:06 , Bill Mcloughlin

Sanders Draper School student Nathan Coxhedge thanked teachers for helping him score top grades in his GCSEs.

Nathan, 16, from Hornchurch, scored Combined Science (8,7); Business (8), History (8) , Maths (8) , French (8) , English Language (7), English Literature (6).

He said: “The school organized revision sessions which proved to be incredibly helpful. They also conducted mock exams that familiarized us with the exam format.

“In particular, Ms. Engleman, my French teacher, played a pivotal role in my achievements.

“Her approachability made it easy to connect with her, and she provided continuous encouragement throughout the entire process.”

He will study A Levels in History, Politics and Economics at The Campion School in Hornchurch.

City of London Academy students receive their results

10:21 , Bill Mcloughlin

Now for some pictures from the City of London Academy after students received their marks.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Carolina Quintino from Ukraine also received her results at the school and seemed overcome with emotion on seeing her marks.

Carolina Quintino from Ukraine reacts as she receives her GCSE results (Getty Images)
Carolina Quintino from Ukraine reacts as she receives her GCSE results (Getty Images)

Teen celebrates GCSE results after overcoming cancer

10:26 , Bill Mcloughlin

An inspirational teenager who has achieved nine GCSEs despite battling severe health problems since being diagnosed with cancer aged three has been praised for his courage and determination.

Seb Murphy, 16, from Guisley, Leeds, has faced formidable hurdles since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy, a stem cell transplant and spinal fusion surgery.

During the pandemic he kept up with lessons at Bradford Grammar School thanks to a robot loaned by Leeds General Infirmary.

He is celebrating scoring a 9, five 8s and three 7s in his nine GCSEs, and will now take A-levels in psychology, business, history and English literature at the school.

 (PA)
(PA)

He said: “It’s been a really rough journey. But the support of my family, friends, and the school has kept me strong, and I’ve had a lot of support and good care from the hospital.

“I’ve known my consultant since I was four and I’ve built up a good relationship with her.

“I just take everything one day at a time.”

Headteacher Simon Hinchliffe said: “Seb has shown a huge amount of courage and determination to keep up with his studies in the face of such tough health issues and gruelling treatments.

“We are very proud of him, he is a credit to the school and we look forward to supporting him as he pursues his A-levels in September.”

Seb went through three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy when he was first diagnosed.

After five years in remission, he was told his leukaemia had returned in December 2017.

Chemotherapy did not work this time, so he was trialled on an experimental immunotherapy treatment to get him into remission.

A stem cell transplant was needed and a German donor was identified as a match.

Seb received the life-saving operation in April 2018.

Further statistics from this year’s results day

10:35 , Bill Mcloughlin

This year’s results have shown that the gender gap between boys and girls has narrowed. The proportion of female entries awarded 7/A or above was 24.9 per cent, 5.8 percentage points higher than male entries (19.1 per cent).

This is the narrowest lead enjoyed by girls since 2009. Last year, girls led boys by 7.4 percentage points (30 per cent girls, 22.6 per cent boys).

The gap at grade 4/C has narrowed for the sixth year in a row. A total of 71.7 per cent of female entries were awarded 4/C or higher, compared with 64.9 per cent for boys, a lead of 6.8 points.

This is the narrowest lead for girls at 4/C since at least 2000. Last year the gap was 6.9 points.

The most popular subject in terms of entries this year was science double award, with a total of 935,436 entries, up 3.5 per cent on 2022.

In terms of subjects, Maths remains the second most popular with 821,322 entries, up 4.9 per cent on 2022.

Business studies saw the biggest percentage rise for any subject with at least 100,000 entries, jumping by 14.8 per cent from 107,283 last year to 123,166 this year.

Leytonstone student dreaming of Oxbridge

10:39 , Bill Mcloughlin

Norlington students exceeded expectations and pulled themselves out of a pandemic funk to achieve top marks in their GCSE results.

Gyokalp Garpla was the Leytonstone school’s top student after he achieved four 9s in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Turkish.

Overall he got 7-9s grades in nine subjects.

His mum accompanied him to get his results and she was beaming from ear to ear with pride.

Gyokalp said: “I am really happy. I was expecting much worse grades to be honest. The teachers here were really terrific and so supportive of me.

“The students too were so helpful and if I ever had any questions there was always someone to turn to. I came here from Turkey three and a half years ago and everyone has been so welcoming.”

He is planning on attending Norlington Sixth Form.

After that he has ambitions to to go to Oxford or Cambridge University.

The headteacher Mr Juan Hernandez said: “We are really pleased so many of our boys did so well in their GCSEs.

“Achieving well above the 2022 national outcomes for Level 5 English and Maths is a testament to the hard work of students and staff.

“These results sit alongside some fantastic A-Level results last week where one in three students gained a place at a Russell Group University.”

Hackney school records best ever results

10:53 , Bill Mcloughlin

A Hackney school which picked up students in a bus to make sure they did not miss their exams has scored its best ever results.

Waterside Academy headteacher Francis Bray sent staff out to get kids out of bed so they attended their GCSE exams.

They also ran compulsory before and after school revision lessons plus exam skills sessions during weekends and holidays.

Year 11 students arrived at the school at 7.30am for revision sessions and were held back after school until 4.30pm every day.

Waterside Academy headteacher Francis Bray in the bus that picks up children for their GCSE exams (Tom Barnes)
Waterside Academy headteacher Francis Bray in the bus that picks up children for their GCSE exams (Tom Barnes)

But the hard work and dedication of students and staff at the school in Hackney, East London, has paid off.

Smiling head Mr Bray says the school progress 8 score jumped by half a grade, making it likely to be among the most improved schools in the country.

Their grades are now at plus 0.24 which is well above the national average. Progress 8 measures improvements in grades students make between year 7 and 11.

Mr Bray said: “We put a huge amount of effort into making sure our students had the best possible chance of getting strong grades.

“I am really happy to say the hard work has really paid off. We have done remarkably well, with grades jumping by half a grade.

“What that means is that more of our students are able to take their next step. To do A Levels and then maybe go onto university.

“Many of our families cannot afford an expensive private tutor to help students with their GCSEs so we provide it for them for free.

“Our teachers came in at half term, gave up their weekends. We have left nothing to chance.”

This year’s results continue to show ‘regional disparities,’ says charity

11:04 , Bill Mcloughlin

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust praised students for their work, but said the gap between London and the rest of the country still remains.

Sir Peter said: "Considering the significant disruption these youngsters have faced as a result of the pandemic, those receiving their GCSE results today should be rightly proud of their achievements.

"As we move back to pre-pandemic grading standards, today's data continues to show regional disparities in attainment.

"Despite a noticeable improvement in the North East compared to 2019, it is still the region with the lowest proportion of top grades and London continues to outperform the rest of the country.

"While it is encouraging that the gap between state and independent schools has narrowed, a considerable difference in attainment remains."

Paddington student ‘so proud’ of results

11:10 , Bill Mcloughlin

Zaynab Ali, 16, a student at Paddington Academy in west London, achieved four 9s, four 8s and one 7 grade in her GCSE results.

She told the PA news agency: “I’m very happy about it. There were some subjects I was particularly worried about, but I ended up getting an 8 or 9 so honestly I’m so proud of what I’ve done.”

Zaynab admitted she was slightly concerned about the grading systems returning to pre-pandemic levels.

“When you’re scrolling through social media and reading the rumours, you’re thinking ‘Is that going to be me?’

“That thought was creeping in and then I opened the envelope and I’m fine, so really no need to worry.”

She added she now planned to take her A-levels and “hopefully” go to university.

‘Really shocked,’ says Hackney student after passing her GCSEs

11:22 , Bill Mcloughlin

Petchey Academy student Zaynab Abdulgani said she was “shocked, really shocked” with her exam results, after passing all her GCSEs.

Zaynab achieved one 9, one 8, one 7, four 6s and two fives.

She said: “After the mocks I wasn’t expecting anything good, and I thought that I wasn’t prepared for GCSEs. But I put in so much effort in the last few weeks.

“I pushed myself and I revised in every little time I had, and I did way better than I expected.”

The results included a 9 in Religious Studies, a 7 in English Literature and an 8 in Geography - which Zaynab was particularly proud of, along with her 6 in Psychology.

Zaynab had to travel for 1 hour 45 minutes to school every day after moving out of Hackney which placed extra strain on her school work, waking up at 05:30am every day but she “managed to get to school on time every single day”.

She believes the mocks were key to her success, as they “show us what our mistakes were which helped me know what I had to work on”.

“By showing me what I had to work on I knew what my weaknesses were,” she added.

Unfortunately Zaynab can’t stay at Petchey Academy because she now lives too far away - but she is very grateful for how the school “helped” her.