Standards will be raised by 2015 exam reforms

Portsmouth delivers yet again with the GSR

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One of the government’s main priorities is to improve the education system so it is as good as any in the world.

Last week changes were made to the traditional grading system for GCSEs. So, from September 2015, in place of the alphabetical A*-G scale, courses will be graded 1–9, with nine being the top mark.

Grade boundaries will also be changed so it is harder to attain the top marks; in recent years it has become apparent it is too difficult to discern between ability at the upper end of the scale.

Until now, secondary schools’ have been judged by how many pupils achieved at least five GCSEs from grades A* to C. But this meant some schools focusing disproportionately, if understandably, on the small number of pupils hovering around the C borderline; students who were achieving Bs were perhaps less likely to get As, and those who were only scraping by with Es were not challenged to get Ds.

While many schools are eager to see their students become well-rounded in a range of subjects, the current system means only focusing on five subjects to hit targets. However, 16-year-olds need to be exposed to a more challenging curriculum before narrowing their choices at 16+ to have the skills necessary for further or higher education, or to be effective in the workplace.

Fundamentally, the new grading system will challenge schools to push students to achieve their full potential. This is backed by other changes that have been proposed, including scrapping the modular system in favour of exams sat at the end of the two-year courses and cutting the amount of coursework in all subjects apart from practical assessments in the sciences.

In Hampshire we have some excellent state secondary schools which stretch their pupils and ensure they are prepared for wherever they head off to afterwards.

I want every pupil across the UK to have the same quality of education and I believe supporting our schools with these reforms will go a long way to making that happen.