Cockburn pupils face new tougher GCSEs

At Cockburn School and Cockburn John Charles Academy, this year’s GCSE candidates are the second year group to sit ‘tough’ new exams under a reformed curriculum.

Cockburn School’s exam hall last month

The dramatic reforms came as part of a government drive to improve schools’, pupils’ and employers’ confidence in the qualifications, ensuring that young people have the knowledge and skills needed to go on to work and further study.

The new GCSEs are “more challenging”, covering more content than in previous years. They are to be graded from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade, rather than A*-G. The new GCSEs are linear in structure rather than modular, with all exams at the end of a two-year course. The new grading scale has more grades at the higher end to recognise the very highest achievers.

The old and new GCSE grading scales do not directly compare but there are three points where they align:

  • The bottom of grade 7 is aligned with the bottom of grade A
  • The bottom of grade 4 is aligned with the bottom of grade C
  • The bottom of grade 1 is aligned with the bottom of grade G.

In theory, a pupil who would have achieved a C or above in the previous system would gain the equivalent of a 4 or above if taking the exams this year. Only the very top students will achieve a grade 9 – set at an even higher level than the previous A* grades.

Schools will continue to be measured by the government based on the exam grades and figures will be published detailing the proportion of pupils achieving both grade 4 and above and grade 5 and above. Progress 8 – a scheme devised to judge schools across all grades and subject areas – will remain the government’s primary accountability measure. In 2017, Cockburn School’s Progress 8 score was 0.65 which is in the top 10% of schools nationally.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said of the changes:

“The new GCSEs are more rigorous so that young people can gain the knowledge and understanding they need to succeed in the future and compete in an increasingly global workplace.”

The exams across the Cockburn Multi-academy Trust are running over 21 days (spread out across 5 weeks): Cockburn John Charles Academy: 33 examinations in 13 different subjects. Cockburn School: 42 examinations in 14 different subjects.

Siobhan Roberts, Head of School at Cockburn John Charles Academy, says:

“We are incredibly proud of our focused and resilient Year 11 students and the way they have all grown academically this year. They have taken their studies seriously and have engaged in all the fantastic opportunities the staff have offered, which have included attending the Academy during the holidays and on Saturdays to ensure they are prepared. I am sure that a great future is awaiting them.”

Rob Dixon, Head of School at Cockburn School, added:

“I am extremely proud of how hard our students have worked to prepare for these exams. They have shown great resilience and determination to succeed. They have attended extra revision sessions both after school and in the holidays, run by our dedicated team of excellent staff. I wish them the very best of luck as they head towards the final stages of their exams and look forward to our Graduation Ceremony and Prom towards the end of June.”

Exam results will be available for pupils to collect on Thursday 23 August 2018.