We are coming up to the second set of the reformed 9-1 GCSE examinations this summer. So, what has been the story so far? Well, 3 key themes stick out to me.
1. Enhanced Levels of Content
With the government deciding that GCSEs had become ‘too easy’, the recent overhaul has meant that more content has been squeezed into the reformed 9-1 GCSE maths specifications. Combined with little or no increase in teaching time, it has pushed more schools into adopting three-year schemes of work. Even then, the teachers I have spoken to over the last year have said that teaching all of the content in time is a struggle, and the schemes of work leave little time for exploring topics in depth.
2. Lower Grade Boundaries… But Perhaps Not Permanently!
The grade boundaries for the first year’s exams were interesting to say the least and attracted some significant media attention. The concept that a student could get over 80% of an exam incorrect and still be judged to have ‘passed’ was criticised by some.
|Percentage score required to achieve ‘Pass’ Standard|
|Legacy GCSEs||Reformed GCSEs|
This year is likely to be a different ball game. To prevent wild fluctuations, exam board were required to ensure that the percentage of students achieving each equivalent grade remained constant. As this requirement is lifted, we may well see some boundary inflation for this and subsequent exam series.
3. Pressure on Stretched Departments is Going Nowhere
The advent of the Progress 8 accountability measure has placed even more prominence upon GCSE results. With Maths counting for double in Progress 8, senior leadership teams up and down the country are keen to see improved maths results for each new cohort. In the current environment of stretched departmental budgets, tricky recruitment challenges and excessive teacher workload, departments are looking for an edge.
Whilst there is no silver bullet, EzyMaths provides an opportunity to increase the amount of formative assessment undertaken by students, without increasing workload. For a demonstration at your school, please fill out our school enquiry form.