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Express & Star comment: Harder for our GCSE guinea pigs

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

First it is taking the exam, then it is collecting the results.

Students will be receiving the results of their GCSE exams this week

No-one can surely envy the thousands of children picking up their GCSE results tomorrow.

But, unfortunately, for this year’s set of students, they have been turned into guinea pigs.

Rather than facing the usual prospect of being graded A* to E, in 20 subjects, students will get graded 9 to 1.

The lower grades D, E, F and G are spread over 1, 2 and 3, while A*, B, C go from 4 to 9.

Basically, it is now much harder to get the top grade.

And so tomorrow, when children go to pick up their results, unfortunately many who were striving for the top may be left feeling disappointed.

This, when we should be encouraging our young people, not putting their high achievements down.

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Surely it is a good thing when so many of our students were getting As and A*s, why do we need to change it?

Some universities and employers may argue it is so they can ensure they get the crème de la crème.

But to put every other student who has worked so hard across the year back a peg or two? No, it is wrong.

And it is no surprise Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has raised his concerns. He says the new grading system ratchets up the pressure on young people another notch.

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The Department for Education needs to understand the exams are not just about recognising ability, but also putting young people through their paces, giving them the opportunity to shine.

The new system has also put more emphasis on the end-of-term exam rather than coursework.

This may be to ensure students cannot cheat, but again, it appears we are adding more pressure on to our young people, already facing an uncertain world when they leave school.

While the new-style grades will seem so important tomorrow, it is worth students taking stock.

There are many people who have not gone down the traditional academic route and still find great success in life.

While good grades may open avenues, they do not make up for grit and determination in the pursuance of accomplishment, and most importantly, happiness.

Good luck for the future.

No matter what number you get, from 1 to 9, believe in yourself and you can fulfil your potential.

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