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Teaching unions warn new GCSE grading system increases pressure on teenagers

TEACHING unions warn today that the new GCSE grading system has “ratcheted up the pressure” on teenagers — hitting their mental health.

School heads have admitted they have given students extensive support to help ease stress and anxiety caused by the government’s shake up of GCSEs in England.

Traditional A* to G grades have been scrapped and replaced with a 9 to 1 system, with 9 the highest grade.

But according to a University of Buckingham study, as few as 200 students could score a clean sweep of 9s when their results are revealed on Thursday.

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) general secretary Geoff Barton said: “We are concerned that the new grading system for GCSEs ratchets up the pressure on young people another notch.

“It was already very hard to achieve the top grade of A* under the old system, and it is even harder to achieve the top grade of a 9 under the new system.

“Young people striving for those top grades may therefore feel disappointed if they do not achieve them, even though they have done exceptionally well in the grades they do achieve.”

National Education Union joint general secretary Mary Bousted said: “We know that students who could have expected to receive an A* in ‘legacy’ GCSEs will be disappointed if they receive an 8 rather than the top grade of 9.

“This sense of underachievement could lead to them deciding that they aren't good enough in those subjects to continue them to A level.”

The Department for Education said the new “gold-standard” GCSEs aim to recognise and reward “truly exceptional performance.”


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