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Daily News Summary
24 August 2023

Exam results 2023: Top GCSE grades fall by 17% as pre-Covid levels are almost restored
AI is still unsuitable for use in high-stakes exams, says AQA
Youth Sport Trust raises alarm over cuts to PE hours

Exam results 2023: Top GCSE grades fall by 17% as pre-Covid levels are almost restored


Students across England, Northern Ireland and Wales have received their GCSE and vocational technical qualification grades this morning, with results falling for a second year in an effort to return grades to pre-pandemic levels. The top grades in English and maths are reportedly down on last year but slightly higher than in 2019, while there has been a higher fall in the proportion of top grades in England than in other UK nations. By Mabel Banfield-Nwachi, The Guardian. This is a live story that is being updated throughout the morning.

The proportion of top GCSE grades awarded to 16-year-olds in England has dropped by 17 per cent, with more than 184,000 fewer 9, 8 and 7 grades awarded this year, despite an increase in entries of more than 171,000. This summer, 22.4 per cent of grades issued have been between 9 and 7, down from 27 per cent last year. By Freddie Whittaker, Schools Week.

According to The Telegraph, independent and grammar schools have led a record drop in top GCSE grades as ministers attempt to return to pre-pandemic standards. Across all schools in the UK, around 200,000 fewer GCSE entries than last year achieved a grade 7 or above, the equivalent of an A or A*. Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), responded to the decrease in top grades at independent schools, saying: “It’s been a very small drop for independent schools in grade 7-9 [since 2019]. First of all, the overall results show independent schools have done incredibly well. The statistics omit nearly half of the entries taken by our schools which are international GCSEs not included in the DfE data." Urging caution when comparing the data, Mr Lenon concluded: “For that reason, it’s impossible to have a sensible interpretation for this small drop compared to 2019 because we don’t even know what subjects it applies to.” By Louisa Clarence-Smith.

The Times features interviews with teenagers who have sat their exams remotely this year, including a budding motor racing star and a girl who uses a trampoline to concentrate. By Nicola Woolcock.

Schools minister Nick Gibb has said high levels of school absences have put GCSE pupils at a disadvantage, with research suggesting those in Year 11 were more likely to have regularly missed lessons than other year groups in the last academic year. By Louisa Clarence-Smith and Catherine Lough, The Telegraph.

Professor Mary Richardson, an education academic, has said GCSE grades should not have been brought back to pre-Covid levels this year as pupils have had too much to contend with. She suggests authorities in England should have shared the approach taken in Wales and Northern Ireland, with a slower return to pre-pandemic grading. By Nicola Woolcock, The Times.

Schools Week summarises seven key trends from England's GCSE data. By Samantha Booth.


AI is still unsuitable for use in high-stakes exams, says AQA


Responding to the Department for Education's consultation on generative AI in education, the AQA exam board said the use of artificial intelligence is not recommended for marking or creating questions for exams, though it has a "clear potential to help reduce teacher workload, which is crucial when it comes to improving teacher recruitment and retention". By Jasmine Norden, Tes.


Youth Sport Trust raises alarm over cuts to PE hours


The Youth Sport Trust has said cuts to the number of hours England's secondary school pupils spend doing physical education and sport "should be a matter of immediate national concern". According to figures released by the government, 4,000 hours were lost in state-funded schools in the last academic year. By Dan Roan, BBC News.



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