the rise in the GCSE pass rate and increase in the proportion of top grades awarded to students this year is testament not only to the hard work and dedication of this country’s young people, but also to the efforts of the army of teachers committed to both educating and supporting them.
Those successes included more than 800 teenagers scoring a clean sweep of the highest grade and were achieved despite concern over the difficulty of the GCSEs, following England’s ‘toughened up’ overhaul, that means pupils are now given less coursework and sit exams only at the end of their two-year courses.
Whatever the grades they received, young people now have a range of options to consider as they decide their next steps, including further study, training, apprenticeships or entering the world of work. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson claims they will be moving on “with the best possible foundations, focusing on the academic cornerstones of education while also stretching themselves creatively”.
Yet concerns from some head teachers that the new courses are “demoralising” and having a “detrimental effect” on struggling students have prompted a school leaders union chief to call for the exams to be tweaked to make them “less of an ordeal” – and such worries should not be ignored, particularly given warnings of a mental health crisis in the nation’s classrooms.
Whilst the many success stories of Yorkshire students are both pleasing and well-deserved, the education and assessment system must ensure that all pupils are given the best chance for life going forward.