Schools warned to be braced for more variation than usual in GCSE

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Schools have been warned by the exam watchdog to be braced for “more variation than usual” in this year’s GCSE and A-level results, as reforms take their toll.This summer is the second year that students are taking re-vamped GCSE exams in a raft of subjects. The new courses were part of a package of reforms by former Education Secretary Michael Gove, designed to toughen up syllabuses, make courses more linear, and cut down on the number of students getting A*s.A-level courses haven also been re-designed, with coursework and modules axed in many subjects. The shake up followed concerns from universities that schools leavers were insufficiently prepared for the demands of higher education.School leaders have previously complained that thousands of “guinea pig” students will be disappointed with their results, as teachers have struggled to accurately predict grades under the new system.Writing to headteachers, Sally Collier, the chief executive of Ofqual, said that while there have been normal levels of variation over the past two years, it is “still possible that some schools and colleges could see more variation than usual this year”. Teenagers will sit the new GCSEs for the first time this summer in 25 new subjects while there will be 19 new A-levels. It is the third and final instalment of the phased introduction of the new qualifications which began in 2017. “We know that it is normal for schools and colleges to see some variation in their year-on-year results, either up or down,” Ms Collier said.“This can be due to many different factors including the ability mix of the students, different teaching approaches, changes to the qualification itself, changes in teaching staff, or the amount of time allocated to teaching a particular subject.“Generally, when qualifications change, we expect that there might be more variation in school and college results.” read more