Number of top GCSE grades across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire rises for second year running

Credit: PA

The number of GCSE entries in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire receiving top grades has increased for the second year in a row.

  • Students at Halifax Academy receiving their results:

It follows the national trend, which found the proportion awarded the highest marks has surged to an all-time high after exams were cancelled for the second year in a row due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However the region is still lagging behind the South of England and the national average.

Almost a quarter of GCSE entries in Yorkshire this year were graded at least a 7, the equivalent of an A.

But that figure rose to over 1 in 3 pupils in London.

Furthermore, poorer pupils in England eligible for free school meals (FSM) have dropped further behind their more privileged peers at GCSE.

Ofqual said that there has been a slight widening of the "long-standing results gap" between students in receipt of FSM and those who are not, by around one tenth of a grade compared with 2019.

The exams regulator suggested the widening gap could be a reflection of the "uneven impact" of the coronavirus crisis, while Labour claimed that the Government had "abandoned" those eligible for FSM.

Hundreds of thousands of youngsters have been given results determined by their teachers, with pupils only assessed on what they have been taught during the pandemic.

Overall, 28.9% of UK GCSE entries were awarded one of the top grades this year, up by 2.7 percentage points on last year when 26.2% achieved the top grades, figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland show.

In 2019, when exams were last held, only 20.8% of entries achieved at least a 7 or an A grade.

Girls have pulled further ahead than boys amid the rise in top grades this year.

The gap between boys and girls achieving one of the top grades has risen from eight percentage points in 2020 to nine percentage points this year.

According to figures from Ofqual, the number of 16-year-old students in England who entered seven or more GCSEs and received a 9 - the highest grade under the numerical grading system - in all subjects has risen.

Overall, the figures show that 7.4% of entries in England were awarded a grade 9, compared with 6.3% last year.

The proportion of entries getting at least a 4 or a C grade is also a record high.

Traditional A*-G grades have been scrapped in England and replaced with a 9-1 system amid reforms, with 9 the highest. A 4 is broadly equivalent to a C grade, and a 7 broadly equivalent to an A.

A total of 77.1% of UK entries scored a C/4 or above last year, which is up by 0.8 percentage points on last year when 76.3% achieved the grades.

In 2019, just over two in three (67.3%) entries achieved at least a 4 or C grade.

The figures, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), cover GCSE entries from students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A separate analysis by Ofqual found that 61.2% of GCSE entries from private schools in England were awarded a grade 7 or above this year, compared with 57.2% in 2020 and 46.6% in 2019.

Independent schools have seen the largest absolute increase in the highest grades compared with other types of schools and colleges - up four percentage points on last year.

Some 28.1% of entries at academies achieved at least a grade 7 this year, a 2.2 percentage point increase from last year, when 25.9% of entries were awarded top grades.

Last summer, the fiasco around grading led to thousands of A-level students having their results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm before Ofqual announced a U-turn.

The proportion of GCSE entries awarded top grades rose to a record high last year after grades were allowed to be based on teachers' assessments, if they were higher than the moderated grades given, following the U-turn.

This year, teachers in England submitted their decisions on pupils' A-level and GCSE grades after drawing on a range of evidence, including mock exams, coursework and in-class assessments using questions by exam boards.

On Tuesday, the proportion of A-level entries awarded top grades reached a record high after exams were cancelled, with 44.8% achieving an A or above.

No algorithm was used this year to moderate grades.

Instead, schools and colleges in England were asked to provide samples of student work to exam boards, as well as evidence used to determine the grades for the students selected, as part of quality assurance (QA) checks.

Random and targeted sample checks of evidence were also carried out after grades were submitted.

He added: "It is important to emphasise that the system of teacher assessment under which these pupils have been assessed is different from public exams and is therefore not directly comparable.

"The GCSE grades awarded to these young people are a fair and accurate reflection of their performance under the robust system used this year, which will allow them to progress to post-16 courses and apprenticeships in the normal way."

Schools minister Nick Gibb said pupils receiving their GCSEs have been through an "exceptional year" because of the coronavirus pandemic.