North East sees higher GCSE results in 2022 than before Covid pandemic

Despite the increases, the North East had the joint lowest top grades (with Yorkshire and the Humber). Credit: PA

The North East has seen higher GCSE results in 2022 than before the pandemic in 2019.

  • More than 70% of North East GCSE students received a grade 4 or above.

  • 22.4% received a 7 or above.

This represents a 6% increase in top grades from 2019 when exams were last sat, the second highest increase in the country.

Despite the increases, the North East had the joint lowest top grades (with Yorkshire and the Humber).

The gap between London and the North East has risen from 9.3% to 10.2%.

School North East said Government policy has failed to recognise the unequal impact of the pandemic, especially in the North.

The organisation said the pandemic had worsened existing challenges facing schools in the North East in terms of the "digital divide", rising financial pressures, an emerging crisis in recruitment and long term disadvantage.

Research from FFT Education Datalab highlighted that Year 10 and 11 pupils this year in the North East, as well as in the North generally, have missed more school than the rest of the country, with London pupils missing the least.

Schools North East said: "Government policy has failed to recognise this unequal impact, too often taking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to ‘catch-up’.

"The North East initially saw low take up of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP).

"In March 2021, the NTP had only reached 58.8% of target schools in our region, compared with 100% in the South West and 96.1% in the South East.

"The lack of pre-existing tutoring infrastructure in our region, as well as challenges around recruitment and retention (exacerbated by the pandemic), has made it difficult for North East schools to engage with this scheme.

"This academic year saw the inclusion of school-led tutoring as part of the NTP, allowing schools to use their own staff.

"This has ensured greater flexibility, with 82.5% of schools in the North East in June 2022 participating in the NTP, above the national average.

"However, this support has come too late, with schools still facing a complex system of funding, creating significant additional workload pressures for teachers and admin teams and difficulties in accessing the support that our students need.

"Post-pandemic, while Covid-related absences and disruption are declining, the impact of the pandemic on students and schools is ongoing, and addressing these challenges requires a long-term plan for education."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have worked with Ofqual to put in place adaptations to support students sitting exams this year including advance information of exam content in some subjects and a grading approach that will ensure overall grades are higher than in 2019.

“We have set out a range of measures to help level up education across England including targeted support both for individual pupils who fall behind and whole areas of the country where standards are weakest. This is alongside £5 billion to help young people to recover from the impact of the pandemic, including £1.5 billion for tutoring programmes.

“Pupil Premium funding is also increasing to more than £2.6 billion in 2022-23, whilst an additional £1 billion is allowing us to extend the Recovery Premium for the next two academic years – funding which schools can use to offer targeted academic and emotional support to disadvantaged pupils.”

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