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Significant rise in pass rate as GCSE results released

Significant rise in pass rate as GCSE results released

Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are finding out their GCSE results today, in a year where exams were cancelled due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of results that students are receiving are based purely on the grades assessed by their own teachers, after a significant U-turn by the government earlier this week saw a controversial moderation system for GCSE & A-Level results largely scrapped.

Grades will have been calculated for students both based off the moderation system and also by teachers, with these grades commonly being known as Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs). Students will receive whichever grade was higher from the two systems, meaning that if their grade was moderated up from the CAG, they will be able to keep the higher grade.

For most students though, their Centre Assessed Grades are expected to be higher, with teachers usually considered to be more optimistic about the chances of students receiving higher grades than exam boards and the controversial moderation algorithm.

Exams regulator Ofqual has said that this year's GCSE results are not comparable to last year's results, however, the pass rate this year rose from 69.9% to 78.8%. The number of entries achieving top grades of 7 or above (A or above), also rose by 5.7% from the last year.

While GCSE results are being released today, the release of grades for BTEC qualifications has been delayed. BTECs are alternative types of qualifications which usually combine more practical learning with theory content.

Exam board Pearson announced on Wednesday evening that they would be re-grading BTEC results, in line with changes made to GCSEs and A-Levels earlier this week. In a statement, Pearson said;

"BTec qualification results have been been generally consistent with teacher and learner expectations, but we have become concerned about unfairness in relation to what are now significantly higher outcomes for GCSE and A-levels."

The re-grading of results could affect around 450,000 pupils - around 250,000 of which already received results last week.

The move by Pearson is expected to cause more disruption as students try to secure places to study in Further and Higher Education for the coming academic year.

Also on the eve of GCSE results day, the Chair of Parliament's Petitions Committee wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, calling for urgent responses to two petitions on Parliament's website regarding this year's exam grades. 

One petition called on the Government to 'Review the decision to use previous data to calculate exam grades', while another called on the Government to 'Reverse all exam grades back to teacher's own predictions'. Collectively, the two petitions on Parliament's website have received over 181,000 signatures. While Ofqual announced earlier this week that A-Level and GCSE grades will now be awarded on the basis of grades precited by teachers, Ms McKinnell, Chair of the Petitions Committee has said "there remain questions to be answered" and that "Students, and their parents, universities and potential employers, should be given the confidence that their results are robust and fair."

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