Grades expected to fall as they return to pre-pandemic levels

Teenagers across the country are waking up to their GCSE results in a year when the proportion of top grades awarded is expected to fall.

Similar to the pattern with A-level results last week, it is expected that top GCSE grades will drop on last year as part of a plan to bring grades down to pre-pandemic levels in England this year.

It comes after Covid-19 led to an increase in top grades in 2020 and 2021, with results based on teacher assessments instead of exams.

Some sixth forms and colleges could decide to admit pupils with lower GCSE grades on to A-level courses this summer compared with recent years.

Greater attention may be given to the induction process for this cohort of students starting sixth form next month to ensure “they cope as best they can”, the leader of a headteachers’ union has suggested.

Last year, more than a quarter (26.3%) of UK GCSE entries were awarded top grades, compared with 28.9% in 2021 and 26.2% in 2020.

In 2019 – the year before the pandemic – around one in five (20.8%) entries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were awarded a 7/A or above.

In England, exams regulator Ofqual has said this year’s GCSE results will be lower than last year and they would be similar to those in 2019.