I recently did a workshop with year 9's on their options choices. Over lunch I had an interesting discussion with the curriculum head. It would seem that despite the reforms, some of these year 9's will be doing GCSE's in 2017 on the old grading structure and some under the new. Perhaps that's not particularly an issue for them right now but here are the ripples I see coming. Has anyone else seen it? I have questions but who has the answers?
Most employers look for a minimum standard of education, currently at least a C at GCSE in English and Maths. It's the government benchmark. But will employers know what a C looks like? Currently the new system grades C at 4 but a 5 is more of a better C and and 6 is more like a B. So will employers look at the grades differently? Or will it just be confusing to them?
Most modern apprenticeships again usually require a C grade as a standard. In some cases where more technical skills are required e.g engineering, some employers may require a B grade in maths. So under the new grade that would be a solid 6 but what if a student got a 5 ie a C/B under the new system, will that be acceptable?
3. A level's
So what grade will get you into Chemistry A level at your school? How will schools decide on who will be allowed to study the qualification. For a harder subject likely chemistry a solid 8 or 9 is a guarantee of course capability. But what about a 7 or a 6? What of other perhaps less demanding subjects such as History, again will a 6 be sufficient? What overall grading in English and Maths will be acceptable for entrance into 6th Form? Who's going to decide?
4. Level 2 and 3 Courses
How will colleges decide on entrants requirements for students in these post 16 courses. For some vocation courses 2 GCSE's grade D is sufficient. But under the new system will a grade 3 be enough? And for their level 3 courses on the NCF? 4 GCSE's at grade 4? Could a student at Grade 4 cope with an extended diploma level 3?
5. Degree Entrants
Certain degrees have a requirement for high academic standards at GCSE, such as Vet Science, Medicine and Dentistry. But what will be their requirement under the new scheme? What grading will they be looking for 7,8 or 9? Will a 7 be sufficient, it classed as an A. which sound like a good grade but when you consider its exceed by 8 at A* and 9 more like an A** is that going to be enough? You can read more on GCSE and university requirements in this good Telegraph article.
Perhaps the biggest impact of all will be on the welfare of our young people as they continue to press to get the best grades, Will there be excitement at results time for getting a 7, a solid A or will that be disappointing and to whom, student or parents?
7. Career Advisors
We need the answers because between education system and employers somehow we need to advise young people accurately and fairly of what these changes will mean. Right now it's a foggy landscape out there and we'd like someone to make some definite calls on how we should interpret these changes. I hope someone in the DofE has the answers. Comments very welcome
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I have 10 years experience of working in careers guidance and am director of CGC. We publish career infographics for schools and colleges