TODAY should be a day of celebration for all those young adults whose GCSE grades more than pass muster.
Yet, just like last week’s A-levels, the results will be almost certainly overshadowed by politicians arguing about the merit of the reforms introduced by Michael Gove, the reduction in coursework and whether the new grading system is an accurate barometer of a candidate’s academic ability.
This matters. It’s not the fault of this cohort of the students that they’re ‘guinea pigs’ for these reforms. They’re also not to blame for the fact that exams in English and maths are being marked numerically – nine represents the highest mark and one the lowest – while most other subjects are retaining the tried and tested A* to E grading system until next summer.
Not only will people require a degree to make sense of the results, make valid comparisons and assess whether the class of 2017 outperformed previous years, but it’s vital that Education Secretary Justine Greening and Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, explain the new marking mechanism, and significance of changes, so pupils don’t miss out on opportunities, interviews, or even jobs because a convoluted mish-mash of qualifications on paper does not do justice to their qualities.
This is one test that Ministers can’t afford to fail – irrespective of how their efforts are judged.