GCSE results rise in South Tyneside after grades U-turn

More pupils in South Tyneside got higher grades in their English and maths GCSEs this summer, according to new government figures

Monday, 7th December 2020, 2:24 pm
Updated Monday, 7th December 2020, 2:37 pm
GCSE grades have risen in South Tyneside

Department for Education figures show 696 students in South Tyneside got grades 5 or above in their English and maths GCSEs in the 2019-20 academic year – up from 526 the previous summer.

Grade 5 is roughly equivalent to a low B or a high C under the old GCSE grading system and the figures mean 42.5% of pupils in the area achieved a strong pass in the subjects – nine percentage points more than 33.5% last year.

But this was still lower than the 49.9% of young people to get the higher grades nationally – 6.7% above 43.2% in 2018-19.

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In South Tyneside, the average score per pupil across the five core subject areas – English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography – also rose, from 3.53 to 3.87.

Nationally, the average rose from 4.07 to 4.38.

The figures follow a Government U-turn earlier this year after exams were cancelled amid the coromavirus pandemic.

Thousands of pupils had their results downgraded by an algorithm but were later given the option to use their teachers’ original predictions after widespread protests.

The Department for Education said the increase reflects the change in how grades were awarded rather than an improvement in standards.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has revealed measures for next year’s exams including “more generous grading” so young people whose learning has been disrupted by Covid-19 are not disadvantaged.

These include more generous grading – in line with the most recent results – and students getting advance notice of some topics covered in their assessments.

Those who miss exams due to illness or self-isolation will get a second chance to sit them.

The National Education Union (NEU) says the changes are welcome but late, and that the most disadvantaged students could miss more school as they are more likely to live in areas with higher infection levels.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said the Government has “at last shown that it is beginning to understand the concerns of teachers, parents and students about next summer’s exams”.