Business leaders, teaching unions and education experts lined up to congratulate the nation’s teenagers on their GCSE results, as some questioned how much value the exams now have.
Others raised concerns about the impact of reforms to the exams system and the effect these could have on students, particularly those from poorer backgrounds.
Katja Hall, deputy director-general of the CBI, said: “Significant changes to the exam system are likely to shift the make-up of results, but schools should be judged not only on their position in the league tables, but how well-prepared young people are for life beyond the classroom.
“As the school participation age rises to 18, the question of how much value we should still be placing on exams at 16 is one we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to. Employers want high-quality academic and vocational routes up to 18 which better support young people into work.
“Congratulations to students . We wish them the best for their next step at school, college or into an apprenticeship. Employers value character and determination as well as academic results, so if some students don’t get the grades they wanted there are lots of choices that will allow them to show what they’re made of.”
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union said: “This year’s GCSE exam entrants have had to cope with a raft of rushed through and ill-conceived changes to the qualifications system and so today’s results are especially commendable. Congratulations must go to teachers and pupils.
“The reality is that despite a campaign of calculated denigration of the GCSE qualification perpetuated by the Coalition Government, there was never any evidence to justify the destabilising changes that teachers and pupils have had to face.”