What are GCSE's?
GCSE - stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. GCSE examinations are taken by most pupils at the end of compulsory school education (year 11) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
These are the main qualifications at Key Stage 4. They are graded A* to G in some subject areas, but the vast majority are now graded 1-9 as per the new GCSE grading structure, (more details under assessment changes).
The expectation is that any student working at grade 4-5 in a subject in Year 9 should go on to gain a grade C equivalent in the subject at GCSE. GCSEs are assessed by externally set written examinations and controlled internal assessments.
Level 2 BTEC Award and Extended Certificates
These are courses linked to vocational areas. They have practical based elements and most marks come from a portfolio of coursework and assignments, which assess how well the student can demonstrate the skills and understanding that they have developed. These are currently awarded at one of the following grades, Distinction *, Distinction, Merit and Pass, and have a GCSE equivalence.
Over the next few years, new, tougher GCSEs will be introduced; firstly in English and Maths, then in most other subjects the following year. This is the same for all schools in the country. The new GCSEs will be graded on a scale from 9 - 1.
The new system does not mirror the old letter grade system of the current GCSEs. However, the new grade 4 is in-line with the current grade C, and the new grade 7 is in-line with the current grade A. It is expected that the new grade 9 will be awarded to the top 20% of students who presently achieve grades A and A* in current GCSEs.
The table below compares the current and the new GCSE grading structure.