1. ITV Report

Changes to GCSEs have 'substantial impact' on results

Thousands of teenagers will be collecting their GCSE results today. Credit: PA

Changes to GCSE entry patterns, along with new maths qualifications, have 'substantially' impacted on this year's grades - according to the WJEC.

The top grade A* remains stable, but there has been a fall in grades A*-C.

The exam board says there are several factors this year affecting the results in different ways for individual subjects.

These include six new GCSE qualifications, as well as the new Skills Challenge Certificate for the Welsh Baccalaureate.

This year also sees a substantial entry by year 10 students, who are in their first year of the two-year course, in some of the new GCSEs.

The headline outcomes are as follows:

  • English Language: A slight improvement in results for 16-year-olds, and a very large number of entries by 15-year-olds.
  • Welsh (1st) Language: Stable outcomes for 16-year-olds and more entries by 15-year olds.
  • Welsh Literature: A small improvement in outcomes, but a substantial fall in entries.
  • English Literature: An improvement in outcomes but very large fall in entries.
  • Mathematics: Results across the academic year are stable at grades A* and A, but there has been a fall across A*-C.
  • Mathematics – Numeracy: Nearly 60% of candidates achieved A*-C in the academic year for this new qualification.
  • Welsh (2nd) Language: Improved results at A* and A*-A for full course, with an increase in entries.
  • Sciences: An increase in entries for separate sciences, but a fall in outcomes.
  • Modern Foreign Languages: Slight increase in entries for Spanish, but a fall in French and German.

Despite a 2.1% fall in size of the age 16 cohort, there is a 7.6% increase in entries from 16-year-olds, caused mainly by the new GCSE Mathematics Numeracy qualification.

The percentage of summer series outcomes for all candidates awarded an A* grade has remained at 6.1%. However, overall summer series outcomes at grades A*- A have fallen by 1.5 percentage points to 17.9%, whilst for grades A*-C there is a fall of 3.8 percentage points to 62.8%, relative to 66.6% for the previous two years.

Results for the age 16 cohort in Wales have also fallen, by 1.2 percentage points to 20.2% for grades A*-A and by 2.8 percentage points to 66.8% for grades A*-C.

However, outcomes for 16 year olds in English Language show an improvement.

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams says pupils being entered early for GCSEs is putting unnecessary pressure on them. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images

Wales' Education Secretary Kirsty Williams congratulated pupils on their results, but expressed concern over the high number of pupils being entered early for GCSE exams.

She said: “I am concerned about the high number of pupils being entered early for their exams. Many of these pupils, who are taking exams before they have completed their two years of GCSE study, have not had the opportunity to reach their full potential. This is putting unnecessary pressure on pupils, teachers and also puts an extra strain on school budgets.

"I will respond to Qualifications Wales’s rapid review of this issue when I receive it in October, but the current situation is unsustainable and all options are on the table."

Meanwhile, pupils across Wales have been celebrating their results.

More on this story