This Head of Year 11 sat the new, harder maths GCSE & only got a C grade

  • Emma Finamore
  • 29 Aug 2018

He did it to show solidarity with his pupils. Bless.

A and A* grades are now the equivalent of a 7, 8 or 9 mark.

A secondary school teacher – and Head of Year 11 – sat one of the new, tougher GCSE exams to show support to his students, and got the equivalent of a C grade.

James Riley  – “Mr Riley” to his pupils – at the Furness Academy in Cumbria, took the new exam to see how hard this year's new GCSE exam system really was.

Opening his results live on Good Morning Britain he discovered he got a grade 5 – the equivalent of a C grade in the new marking scheme. 

With his pupils gathered around him at the school he opened his envelope and said: “Drumroll, yeah? No pressure!”

The new grading system sees the traditional A* to G grades replaced with a numerical grading system of 9 to 1. 9 represents the highest grade while, a 1 is the lowest passing mark. U will still represent a failing mark in the new grading system.

Old A and A* grades are now the equivalent of a 7, 8 or 9 mark.

“Drumroll, yeah? No pressure!”

The newly introduced regime has faced a backlash from both teachers and students, with some saying it has even led to a rise in mental health issues among pupils. According to a poll by the National Education Union (NEU), nearly nine-in-ten (89%) secondary school teachers believe that changes in the way new GCSEs are assessed have made more students extremely anxious and stressed, while two-thirds (66%) said the same about the new A-levels.

In many of the new GCSE subjects, students are being assessed only through formal written exams tat the end of year 11, with no re-sit opportunities, and no coursework or controlled assessment. 91% of teachers think that the new GCSEs are much harder – as was intended by government – but teachers said that this has demotivated many pupils and turned schools into “exam factories”.

Others have argued the new harder qualifications bring the UK in line with the education system in other countries. 



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