GCSEs may need grade 10, say private schools
4th September 2019
Independent schools have mooted the possibility of a grade 10 becoming the new top GCSE grade in the future, after some private schools saw the majority of their entries achieve a grade 9, currently the highest possible grade.
Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said a growing number of private schools were achieving results where the top grade was the “most common” grade.
He cited one school he knew where 57 per cent of entries were awarded grade 9
“Nobody envisaged this three years ago,” he said. “It does leave room for a grade 10.”
Mr Lenon added that an immediate introduction of a grade 10 was unlikely, as the numerical grading system of 9 to 1 was still so new.
Currently, Mr Lenon said, the grade 9 served its purpose in differentiating ability at the top end of the grading system.
“The number of grade 9s is rationed to avoid the possibility of grade inflation anyway.”
But he said a grade 10 could be introduced in the future “if over time the general standard of pupils at the top end continues to rise”.
“Given we were told grade 9s would be very rare, it’s astonishing there are schools where it’s the commonest grade,” Mr Lenon said.
‘People attacking private schools should get their facts straight'
David James, deputy head of Bryanston School, argues many of the claims surrounding privilege in independent schools are "unfounded".
“In order to get a more balanced view of what is informing current discussion in this particularly shaded and contentious corner of the educational playground, more light needs to be turned on it.
Take the case of IGCSEs. You could argue that independent schools are playing the system, or you could ask if the government is fixing it by insisting that state schools can take only GCSEs in order to ensure that those beloved league tables have consistency of data.
Independent schools opted for IGCSEs before reformed GCSEs, because they were more rigorous. It was Michael Gove who adapted the national qualifications to make them more like IGCSEs and then (Marxist that he is) abolished all competition. Anyway, the majority of exams taken by 16-year-olds in the independent sector are GCSEs, not IGCSEs. But that’s an inconvenient truth nobody wants to hear.
You could argue that this is all very well, but what about universities? Surely independent-school students are massively overrepresented at Oxbridge? The reality is that the proportion of state-school pupils getting into these universities has risen relative to independent schools, but their actual number has fallen (1,464 to Oxford in 2013, 1,431 in 2017) because Oxford and Cambridge have not expanded when compared with other universities. It is a peculiar stranglehold that independent schools have over Oxbridge when 64 per cent of students accepted by Cambridge University came from state schools.”