I’d like to have called this post .. the truth, the whole truth and … ummmm … what we don’t yet know!

Further to my post last night in which I mention not being able to keep “my gob shut” I have collated some FAQs (and thanks to Emma Bell for suggesting some of the most common queries and proof reading for me!) of what we definitely know AS FACT and what we definitely don’t yet have answers for. Now hopefully this will stop the scaremongering and speculation about what we do know or what we don’t know.

To help you further, I’ve put together the below timeline:

what we know


When is the last exam for the old GCSE?

There is a resit opportunity in November 2016, for current year 11’s. On the 23rd March 2016 Ofqual confirmed that there will be another resit opportunity in Summer 2017.

When is the first exam for GCSE 9-1?

June 2017

How much more content is in GCSE 9-1?

This is difficult to be accurate about and one measure is to consider the extra examination time – which is roughly 1/3 extra compared to the current specifications. Three of the exam boards have chosen to have 3 papers each 1.5 hours long whilst WJEC Eduqas have chosen to have 2 papers each 2 hours 15 minutes long.

Has the exam format changed?

Yes the DFE defined new assessment objectives and included new content to be examined across both tiers. Additionally there is a significant shift in content from Higher to Foundation tier.

Mathematics is the only GCSE so far that has retained “tiering” in its examinations. The difficulty with the papers is “ramped” differently now.

 — 50% of higher targets grades 7-9 (A and above).

 — 50% of foundation targets grades upper 3-5 (D+ to B-).

 — There is a requirement to have a minimum of 20% of common questions in both tiers aimed at grades 4-5.

What is a pass and how does each new grade compare with the current GCSE.

All grades are a “pass”. However Ofqual have published the below which makes it clear that they are hoping that a grade 5 will be considered a “good” pass. MEL – ultimately it will be the labour market and employers that decide what a good pass if we are being brutally honest especially if there aren’t enough people out there with a “5” and above.

ofqual postcard

What grade are schools held accountable for in School League Tables?

Be under no illusions – from 2017 (the first sitting) secondary schools are being measured on the percentage gaining a grade 5. THIS IS A FACT!!!!

This is a massive point that people need to be aware of … our national “pass” rates are going to plummet by about 20% as there were about 150,000 students that would be between a 4 and a 5, of which, roughly two thirds will get a 4 (no longer considered a pass in 2017). The media will have a field day!!


How does the new GCSE fit in with Progress 8? Is it worth 2 GCSEs for the students because it’s double weighted?

Under progress 8 the Maths GCSE is double weighted for the school but the student will only get awarded 1 GCSE. (It is not worth two for the school because of anything to do with the twin pair pilot!)

How are grades being awarded in 2017?

Ofqual will be using comparable outcomes so that roughly the same percentage that are awarded grades at key points/grades in 2016 will be used as benchmarks for 2017.


Is there a Summer 2017 legacy resit?

YES THERE IS .. THIS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED ON 23RD MARCH 2016. See my post here for more information.

At present, students who achieve a D in GCSE Maths are required to resit GCSE when they continue in Post-16 education. What will the equivalent benchmark be with 9-1 GCSE?

The full conditions of funding for post 16 has yet to be published but the government have suggested that post 2019 they intend the benchmark for resits to be set as a grade 5. HOWEVER for the first two years they have said that they are taking a phased approach as per the below.

Let’s be honest though .. there is nothing to stop students wanting to resit if they get a grade 4, or in fact some colleges may choose to insist that some students resit.

condition of funding

What will the university entry requirement at GCSE be (in the same way that many require a C in Maths and English)?

I haven’t seen any entry requirements published yet and it is unlikely that they will publish this information for a couple of years!

What will be the requirement for Initial Teacher Training?

The minimum ITT requirement is set by Government and they haven’t said yet. Whilst there is a minimum some unis have higher requirements.

Students who achieve an E or lower in GCSE Maths need to be “working towards” GCSE if they continue in Post-16 education, perhaps studying a “stepping stone” qualification. Has this been factored in to the GCSE reforms?

Nothing has been mentioned as to what is the “trigger” for stepping stone quals. It is assumed that this is a grade 3 and below definitely from 2019 but the government have yet to clarify what is required in their “phased approach”.

If you have any further questions please add them below as a comment and I’ll try to get answers and add to the post (it may take me a day or two so bear with me!).

Correct to the best of my knowledge as of 6th March 2016.