GCSE Results Day 2022: North-south divide grows as a third of students in London get top grades


A north-south divide in the UK’s GCSE grades has grown in this year’s results – with almost a third of pupils in London getting top grades compared, to just over one in five in the north-east.

Figures published today reveal how 32.6 per cent of students in London obtained top grades – 7/A or above – in this year’s GCSE results, while the figure was 22.4 per cent for those in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

It means the figure is some 10.2 percentage points below London – up from last year when the gap between London and the North East was 10.0 percentage points.  

The divide has also widened from 9.3 percentage points pre-Covid in 2019, when 16.4 per cent of students in the North East got a top grade, compared with 25.7 per cent in London. 

It comes as figures published today by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) – covering GCSE entries from students predominantly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – showed top grades of 7/A have fallen, as expected, this year.

They went from 28.9 per cent in 2021, when there were no formal exams due to Covid, to 26.3 per cent this year – a drop of 2.6 percentage points. 

Every region across the country saw a fall in the proportion of pupils getting a 7/A or above. But the divide between the highest and lowest-achieving areas since before the pandemic grew.

Schools minister Will Quince has insisted closing the attainment gap is a ‘huge priority’ for the Government, as Labour accused the Tories of having ‘failed’ children amid regional disparities in results.

Today, one educational charity, Schools North East, which describes itself as dedicated to improving outcomes for young people in the north-east of England, said the increased gap shows that adaptations made this year such as more generous grading and focused revision topics had not gone far enough.

The organisation said: ‘It is clear that the disproportionate impact of the pandemic in regions like the North East has not been effectively taken into account.

‘This year’s results can be seen as a ‘map’ of the impact of the pandemic on students and schools.’

Figures published today reveal how students 32.6 per cent of students in London obtained top grades - 7/A or above - in this year's GCSE results, while the figure was 22.4 per cent for those in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Figures published today reveal how students 32.6 per cent of students in London obtained top grades – 7/A or above – in this year’s GCSE results, while the figure was 22.4 per cent for those in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Maddie Hallam with her parents receiving her GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Maddie Hallam with her parents receiving her GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Nicholas Youmbi-Youdom (Nike jumper) celebrates nine 9s today at Barlow RC High School in Didsbury, Greater Manchester

Nicholas Youmbi-Youdom (Nike jumper) celebrates nine 9s today at Barlow RC High School in Didsbury, Greater Manchester

(From left) Jenna Maghaireh, Hannah Taylor, Ria Sood, Amber Malkin and Zaina Rajput at The Grammar School at Leeds today

(From left) Jenna Maghaireh, Hannah Taylor, Ria Sood, Amber Malkin and Zaina Rajput at The Grammar School at Leeds today

The group’s director, Chris Zarraga, said the pandemic had exacerbated ‘serious perennial issues, especially that of long-term deprivation’, as he called for a support plan.

Percentage of top GCSE grades falls in Northern Ireland 

The percentage of top GCSE grades in Northern Ireland has fallen in the first year since formal examinations returned post-pandemic.

While results are down compared to teacher-assessed grades issued during the Covid-19 crisis, they are up on pre-pandemic levels.

The GCSEs completed in 2022 were different to those sat in 2019, with the overall assessment burden reduced to reflect the disruption to students’ learning caused by the coronavirus emergency.

The provisional figures released on Thursday show that in Northern Ireland 37% of students received a grade A/7 and above.

In 2021, almost 40% of students received the top marks in the teacher-assessment model. When exams were last sat in 2019, the percentage receiving top grades was 30.5%.

Ninety percent of students received grade C/4 and above. This was largely similar to 2020 and 2021, but up significantly from the 82.2% recorded in 2019.

Girls continued to outperform boys with about 42% of entries from girls in 2022 received A* or A grades compared with 32% of entries from boys.

The results for just under 30,000 students who took GCSE exams in Northern Ireland in 2022 were published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen praised the hard work and resilience of students during a visit to St Columbanus’ College in Bangor, Co Down.

‘Congratulations to all our young people across Northern Ireland who have received GCSE results today,’ she said.

‘The outcomes are extremely positive, with 90% of students achieving grades A* to C. The success of our students is well-deserved and testament to their hard work and resilience following three years of disrupted learning. They should be rightly proud of their achievements.

‘It is also important to recognise the incredible work of teachers across Northern Ireland in helping students prepare for examinations in a challenging learning environment.

‘I wish to thank them for all they have done, as well as the families of students who have supported these young people throughout this important year.’

 

He said: ‘Schools urgently need a properly thought-through and resourced ‘recovery’ plan, that recognises the regional contexts schools operate in, with a long-term view of education and a curriculum that is appropriate and accessible to all students and schools.’

Mr Quince told Times Radio: ‘Ensuring that wherever you live up and down our country that you have access to a world-class education, and you have the same opportunity – whether you live in Bournemouth or Barnsley – is really important to us, and every year up until the pandemic we’ve been closing the attainment gap.’

As expected, with the return to formal exams for the first time in three years, top grades fell from 2021 levels but remained higher than in 2019.

It comes as figures show top grades for GCSEs have fallen by a record amount and are down on last year but higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The plunge in top grades will affect an estimated 75,000 – with about 50,000 fewer getting at least a basic pass in six GCSEs. Sixth forms usually ask for at least four passes.

Top grades of 7/A or above in England, Wales and Northern Ireland fell from 28.9 per cent in 2021 to 26.3 per cent this year, a drop of 2.6 percentage points. But this is higher than the equivalent 2019 figure of 20.8 per cent.

The proportion of entries receiving a 4/C or above – considered a pass – dropped from 77.1 per cent in 2021 to 73.2 per cent this year, a fall of 3.9 percentage points, but higher than 67.3 per cent in 2019.

And girls continued their lead over boys this year, with 30.0 per cent of entries achieving a 7/A, compared with 22.6 per cent for males, according to figures published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

But the gap has closed slightly from last year, when 33.4 per cent of female entries were awarded 7/A or above compared with 24.4 per cent for males, a lead of 9.0 percentage points.

Separate figures, published by exams regulator Ofqual, showed that 2,193 16-year-olds in England got a grade 9/A* in all their subjects – including 13 students who did at least 12 GCSEs.

The top 10 subjects at GCSE, which sees pupils having to take a number of compulsory subjects as well as some optional choices, remained the same this year. Business studies, which is optional, saw the biggest percentage rise in entries of any major subject, jumping by 4.6 per cent from 102,542 to 107,283. While Spanish remains the second-most popular modern foreign language after French, its entries have fallen for the first time since 2018.

While traditional A*-G grades are used in Northern Ireland and Wales, in England these have been replaced in with a 9-1 system, where nine is the highest. A 4 is broadly equivalent to a C grade, and a 7 is roughly the same as an A. 

In 2021, the proportion of GCSE entries awarded top grades surged to an all-time high after exams were cancelled for the second year in a row due to Covid-19 and pupils were given results determined by their teachers.

Similar to the pattern with A-level results, published last week, it had been expected that grades would drop below last year, but remain above those from 2019 as students returned to sitting exams for the first time in three years.

Finney Harrod receiving his GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Finney Harrod receiving his GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Students congratulate each other receiving their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Hugo Lewis smiles after opening his GCSE results with his mother (left) and headteacher Hanan Khaleel (right) at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

Hugo Lewis smiles after opening his GCSE results with his mother (left) and headteacher Hanan Khaleel (right) at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

Kaitlin Wolmarans (centre) with other students after they received his GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk today

Kaitlin Wolmarans (centre) with other students after they received his GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk today

Students celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Students celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Students celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds in West Yorkshire this morning

Students celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds in West Yorkshire this morning

Milla Freeman (left) and Tara Al-Haddad (right) receive their GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School today

Milla Freeman (left) and Tara Al-Haddad (right) receive their GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School today

Maddie Hallam with her mother receiving her GCSE results at Norwich School

Maddie Hallam with her mother receiving her GCSE results at Norwich School

Maddie Hallam with her mother receiving her GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Maddie Hallam with her mother receiving her GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Maddie Hallam with her mother receiving her GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Florence Cyriax (left) and Emily Ames (right) receive their GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in London today

Florence Cyriax (left) and Emily Ames (right) receive their GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in London today

Shane Servini hugs his mother after opening his GCSE results at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

Shane Servini hugs his mother after opening his GCSE results at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

(From left) Dominic Sebastian, Abigail Woodworth & Anna Raveendran at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today

(From left) Dominic Sebastian, Abigail Woodworth & Anna Raveendran at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today

Aminah Majid and Ellie Wheaton (right) celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds today

Aminah Majid and Ellie Wheaton (right) celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds today

Sara Bertea and Jemima Gotto after they received their GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Sara Bertea and Jemima Gotto after they received their GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Students celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Students celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

(left to right) Emily Ames, Adriana Hodson, and Connie Pilling at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in London this morning

(left to right) Emily Ames, Adriana Hodson, and Connie Pilling at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in London this morning

(From left) Molly Fearn and Aminah Majid celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds today

(From left) Molly Fearn and Aminah Majid celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds today

Kath Thomas, interim chief executive officer of JCQ, congratulated students getting their results ‘after lots of hard work and all the challenges of the pandemic’.

She said: ‘We’re pleased that exams are back, as they’re the fairest way to assess students and give everyone the chance to show what they know.

Key figures in this year’s GCSE results: Top grades down on last year, but still up on pre-Covid levels

  • The proportion of candidates receiving the highest grades has fallen from last year, but is higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic. A total of 26.3% of entries were awarded 7/A or above, down from 28.9% in 2021 but up from 20.8% in 2019.
  • Some 73.2% of entries received a 4/C grade or above. This is down from 77.1% last year, but higher than 67.3% in 2019.
  • The overall rate for grades 1/G or above is 98.4%, down from 99.0% in 2021 but slightly above 98.3% in 2019.
  • The lead enjoyed by girls over boys for the top grades has narrowed. The proportion of female entries awarded 7/A or above was 30.0%, 7.4 percentage points higher than male entries (22.6%). Last year, girls led boys by 9.0 percentage points (33.4% girls, 24.4% boys).
  • The gap at grade 4/C has narrowed for the fifth year in a row. A total of 76.7% of female entries were awarded 4/C or higher, compared with 69.8% for boys, a lead of 6.9 points. Last year the gap was 7.0 points.
  • The most popular subject in terms of entries this year was science double award, with a total of 904,012 entries, up 0.9% on 2021.
  • Maths remains the second most popular subject, with 782,783 entries, down 3.5% on 2021.
  • Business studies saw the biggest percentage rise in entries of any major subject, jumping by 4.6% from 102,542 to 107,283.
  • After maths, the major subject with the largest percentage fall in entries was English, down by 3.0% from 780,231 to 756,462.
  • Overall, there were a total of 5,708,871 GCSE entries, down slightly (by 0.6%) on last year’s figure of 5,745,945.
  • A total of 2,193 16-year-olds in England taking at least seven GCSEs achieved a grade 9 in all their subjects. This is down from 3,606 in 2021.

‘This is the first time in three years that results have been based on formal exams and coursework, so it’s a welcome step back towards normality.

‘These results will help them progress to the next stage of their education and make some important decisions about their future.

‘As planned – and as with last week’s A-level results, these results are higher than the last set of summer exams in 2019, but lower than last year’s teacher-assessed grades.’

Meanwhile, exam board Pearson warned this week that thousands of students could miss out on being issued BTec (Business and Technology Education Council) results today.

It said that changes this year, made in order to take into account disruption to teaching and learning during the pandemic, had ‘added more complexity to the process’ and that without full information they are unable to award students their results.

And a headteachers’ union said mitigations should be put in place again for 2023’s GCSE exams.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said next year’s cohort will also have been ‘heavily impacted’ by the pandemic, and warned of potentially being further affected by any future infections during autumn and winter.

ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton said: ‘Moving to this midpoint was done to give these pupils more leeway than directly returning to the 2019 standard in order to mitigate the impact of Covid on their education. Adaptations were also made to exams for this reason.

‘The Government and Ofqual will now need to decide whether to put mitigations in place for next year.

‘The strong indication we are hearing from school and college leaders is that this must happen because next year’s cohort will have also been heavily impacted by Covid.

‘This is particularly important given the likelihood of more waves of infections during the autumn and winter.’

Schools minister Will Quince said today that overall grades for GCSEs are expected to be lower than in 2020 and 2021, but ‘that’s very much part of the plan’.

He told Sky News: ‘The results will be out very, very soon, but I think the first thing is that today is a celebration of all those young people’s achievements and efforts over the course of the past two years.

‘So, today’s about saying a huge well done, and a huge thank you to all of the teachers and the school leaders, and of course parents and carers that have supported young people to get those results. And you know, wish them every success with what they’re going to do next.’

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Siena Edhem (right) and Alexandra Hall celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds today

Siena Edhem (right) and Alexandra Hall celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds today

Nyla Kete receives her GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in West London this morning

Nyla Kete receives her GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in West London this morning

Students at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol celebrate their GCSE exam results this morning

Students at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol celebrate their GCSE exam results this morning

Students Kristin Dankwah (left) and Sarah Vlan de Castro (right) at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park today

Students Kristin Dankwah (left) and Sarah Vlan de Castro (right) at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park today

Milan (left) and Sasha (right) receive their GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in London today

Shannon Rostam (right) receives her GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Shannon Rostam (right) receives her GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Hugo Lewis smiles after opening his GCSE results in Swansea today

Hugo Lewis smiles after opening his GCSE results in Swansea today

Hugo Lewis smiles after opening his GCSE results with his mother at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

Miriam McGrath covers her mouth as she opens her GCSE results at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today

Miriam McGrath covers her mouth as she opens her GCSE results at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today

Students Harry (left) and Adil (right) receive their grades at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park this morning

Students Harry (left) and Adil (right) receive their grades at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park this morning

Students congratulate each other receiving their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Students congratulate each other receiving their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

(From left) Siena Edhem, Alexandra Hall and Grace Bond celebrate their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds today

(From left) Siena Edhem, Alexandra Hall and Grace Bond celebrate their GCSE results at The Grammar School at Leeds today

(From left) Dominic Sebastian, Abigail Woodworth, Anna Raveendran, Grace Ford, and Miriam McGrath, students at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol, open their GCSE exam results this morning

(From left) Dominic Sebastian, Abigail Woodworth, Anna Raveendran, Grace Ford, and Miriam McGrath, students at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol, open their GCSE exam results this morning

Students celebrate as they receive their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Students celebrate as they receive their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Sawdah Robbani smiles after opening her GCSE results at Ffynone House School

Sawdah Robbani smiles after opening her GCSE results at Ffynone House School

Sawdah Robbani smiles after opening her GCSE results at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

Students celebrate as they receive their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Students celebrate as they receive their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Student Ella Kartal receives her grades at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park this morning

Student Ella Kartal receives her grades at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park this morning

Shane Servini, Hugo Lewis and Dan Owen open their GCSE results at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

Shane Servini, Hugo Lewis and Dan Owen open their GCSE results at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Ieuan Nelson hugs his mother after opening his GCSE results at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

Ieuan Nelson hugs his mother after opening his GCSE results at Ffynone House School in Swansea this morning

(From left) Dominic Sebastian, Abigail Woodworth & Anna Raveendran at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today

(From left) Dominic Sebastian, Abigail Woodworth & Anna Raveendran at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today

Students celebrate as they receive their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Students celebrate as they receive their GCSE results at Roedean School in Brighton this morning

Student Ismail Mckenzie receives his grades at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park this morning

Student Ismail Mckenzie receives his grades at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park this morning

Asked whether their grades are going to be lower, Mr Quince said: ‘So, yeah, they are and that’s very much part of the plan. Over the last couple of years, we have had teachers assess grades, we have gone back for the first time to examinations.’

How are GCSEs graded across the UK? 

Students are receiving GCSE results today, having sat exams for the first time in two years due to the pandemic.

Grading is different in England, compared with Northern Ireland and Wales.

In England, traditional A* to G grades were replaced in recent years with a 9 to 1 system, with 9 being the highest mark.

In general, a grade 7-9 is roughly equivalent to A-A*, while a grade 4 and above is roughly equivalent to a C and above.

Traditional A*-G grades are still used in Northern Ireland and Wales.

Similar to the pattern with A-level results, published last week, it is expected that results will drop below last year, but remain above those from 2019.

This year, exams were graded more generously in a bid to provide a safety net for students in the move back towards pre-pandemic arrangements.

He added: ‘We recognise the fact that young people have faced huge disruption of the past couple of years, so there have been adaptations in place and Ofqual have reflected in their marking and grading.’

He also said that closing the attainment gap is a ‘huge priority’ for the Government.

Every region in England saw a fall in the proportion of pupils getting a 7/A or above. 

Asked on Times Radio about GCSE regional disparities because of Covid-19, Mr Quince said: ‘It’s a huge priority. Ensuring that wherever you live up and down our country that you have access to a world-class education, and you have the same opportunity – whether you live in Bournemouth or Barnsley – is really important to us, and every year up until the pandemic we’ve been closing the attainment gap.’

He added: ‘The pandemic has without question set us back on that mission. But to say that I am back on that with gusto would be an understatement.

‘It is my mission as schools minister to ensure that wherever you live in our country, that you have that same level of opportunity.’

But Labour said the country is likely to see regional disparities in GCSE results because the Government has ‘failed’ children.

Asked on Sky News about possible reasons for disparities, shadow education minister Stephen Morgan said: ‘Because the Government failed children and the children recovery plan hasn’t actually made a real difference across the country.’

He added: ‘Most ministers don’t seem to be able to describe what levelling up means. And what we are seeing is a failure of Government investment across the country. That’s why our plan would make a real difference…

‘And look at the BTec results last week – there are young people that still don’t have results from Level Three. We have heard that the Level Two results won’t be out today, either.’

Abigail Woodworth (left), 16, and Anna Raveendran, 16, hug each other at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today

Abigail Woodworth (left), 16, and Anna Raveendran, 16, hug each other at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol today

Alex Meyer and James McConnell who both achieved 11 A*/A's in their GCSEs with headmaster Robert Robinson at Campbell College in Belfast today. Traditional A*-G grades are used in Northern Ireland and Wales, but in England there is a 9-1 system

Alex Meyer and James McConnell who both achieved 11 A*/A’s in their GCSEs with headmaster Robert Robinson at Campbell College in Belfast today. Traditional A*-G grades are used in Northern Ireland and Wales, but in England there is a 9-1 system

Students receive their GCSE grades at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park this morning

Students receive their GCSE grades at City of London Academy Shoreditch Park this morning

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Notting Hill and Ealing High School in London today

Notting Hill and Ealing High School in London today

Milan (left) and Sasha (right) receive their GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in London today

Pupils and parents look at GCSE results at Campbell College in Belfast today as teenagers across Britain get their results

Pupils and parents look at GCSE results at Campbell College in Belfast today as teenagers across Britain get their results

Sara Bertea and Jemima Gotto after they received their GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Sara Bertea and Jemima Gotto after they received their GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, this morning

Students receiving their GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, this morning

Gulam-Mustafaa Aslam receiving his GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Gulam-Mustafaa Aslam receiving his GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Mitchell Riley (left) Alex Meyer and Niall Slack (right) who all achieved 11 A*/As at Campbell College in Belfast today

Mitchell Riley (left) Alex Meyer and Niall Slack (right) who all achieved 11 A*/As at Campbell College in Belfast today

Jonathan Ikazaboh receiving his GCSE results at Norwich School in Norfolk this morning

Leena Flade receives her GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in Ealing, West London, this morning

Leena Flade receives her GCSE results at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in Ealing, West London, this morning

Friends Grace Ford (left) and Miriam McGrath hug at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol this morning

Friends Grace Ford (left) and Miriam McGrath hug at St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol this morning

Shannon Rostam (right) gets her GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Shannon Rostam (right) gets her GCSE results at Rockwood Academy secondary school in Alum Rock, Birmingham, today

Dylan Nixon (left) and Ger Gaskin who both achieved 9 A*/As in their GCSEs at Campbell College in Belfast this morning

Dylan Nixon (left) and Ger Gaskin who both achieved 9 A*/As in their GCSEs at Campbell College in Belfast this morning

Also today, Labour said the Conservatives had left a ‘legacy of unequal outcomes’ holding back children and communities – as it accused successive Tory governments of ‘failing our children’ and pointed to regional disparities in results. 

This graphic from Ofqual shows how the new grading structure for GCSE results compares to the old format

This graphic from Ofqual shows how the new grading structure for GCSE results compares to the old format

Statistics show that last year fewer than four in 10 students in Knowsley, in the North West, achieved a pass in English and maths – more than 20 percentage points lower than the national average.

Labour cited this as being in contrast to other areas including Trafford in Greater Manchester, Kingston-upon-Thames in south-west London, and Buckinghamshire, where some seven in 10 young people got a pass in both subjects.

Following the publication of A-level results last week, social mobility charity The Sutton Trust said regional gaps are growing and the differences in levels of achievement at private schools compared with state schools and colleges are still above 2019 levels.

Mr Morgan said: ‘Young people receiving results have worked incredibly hard, but 12 years of Conservative governments has left a legacy of unequal outcomes that are holding back kids and holding back communities.

‘As we head into results day, every child should know that they are supported by a Government which believes in them and their ability to succeed, but sadly that’s simply not the case. The Conservatives are failing our children.

GCSE top grades (7/A and above) by nation & region

Percentage of GCSE entries awarded the top grades (7/A or above) by nation and region, with the equivalent figures for 2021 and the pre-pandemic year of 2019:

  • North-east England 22.4% (2021: 24.5%; 2019: 16.4%)
  • North-west England 23.1% (2021: 25.9%; 2019: 18.6%)
  • Yorkshire & the Humber 22.4% (2021: 24.4%; 2019: 17.8%)
  • West Midlands 22.8% (2021: 25.3%; 2019: 18.1%)
  • East Midlands 22.5% (2021: 25.1%; 2019: 18.3%)
  • Eastern England 26.2% (2021: 28.5%; 2019: 20.5%)
  • South-west England 25.3% (2021: 29.1%; 2019: 20.4%)
  • South-east England 29.2% (2021: 31.9%; 2019: 23.5%)
  • London 32.6% (2021: 34.5%; 2019: 25.7%)
  • England 26.0% (2021: 28.5%; 2019: 20.7%)
  • Wales 25.1% (2021: 28.7%; 2019: 18.4%)
  • Northern Ireland 37.0% (2021: 39.9%; 2019: 30.5%)
  • All 26.3% (2021: 28.9%; 2019: 20.8%)

GCSE pass rate (4/C and above) by nation & region 

Here is the GCSE pass rate (entries awarded 4/C or above) by nation and region, with the equivalent figures for 2021 and the pre-pandemic year of 2019:

  • North-east England 71.2% (2021: 75.5%; 2019: 63.8%)
  • North-west England 70.3% (2021: 75.0%; 2019: 64.9%)
  • Yorkshire & the Humber 69.6% (2021: 73.5%; 2019: 64.1%)
  • West Midlands 69.9% (2021: 74.3%; 2019: 63.8%)
  • East Midlands 71.5% (2021: 75.4%; 2019: 65.8%)
  • Eastern England 73.7% (2021: 77.1%; 2019: 67.1%)
  • South-west England 74.2% (2021: 78.6%; 2019: 68.3%)
  • South-east England 75.5% (2021: 79.3%; 2019: 70.2%)
  • London 76.7% (2021: 79.7%; 2019: 70.6%)
  • England 73.0% (2021: 76.9%; 2019: 67.1%)
  • Wales 68.6% (2021: 73.6%; 2019: 62.8%)
  • Northern Ireland 90.0% (2021: 89.6%; 2019: 82.2%)
  • All 73.2% (2021: 77.1%; 2019: 67.3%)

‘Labour is ambitious for every child. We would end tax breaks for private schools and invest in thousands of new teachers, to give every child the brilliant teaching and school experience they need to achieve and thrive.’

Retired RAF radar fitter becomes oldest person in Britain to ever pass a GCSE exam… aged 92! 

A sprightly pensioner has become the oldest person in Britain to ever pass a GCSE exam – at the age of 92.

Derek Skipper, of Orwell, Cambridgeshire, took his maths GCSE in May and has passed with flying colours after he achieved a grade 5, the highest possible on the foundation paper he took.

A grade five is the equivalent of a high B or low C in the old GCSE grading system. 

Derek Skipper, of Orwell, Cambridgeshire, took his maths GCSE in May and has passed after he achieved a grade 5

Derek Skipper, of Orwell, Cambridgeshire, took his maths GCSE in May and has passed after he achieved a grade 5

The grandfather-of-three said: ‘I was very, very pleased. When I started out on the course in September, it was very low key and I didn’t tell anyone I was even doing it, as I thought if I don’t finish it then it’s embarrassing so I kept very quiet until Christmas time.

‘The results didn’t matter to me at all, I was just doing it for my own fun. My family all think it’s a bit of fun, they’ve all laughed and if it gives people some pleasure then that’s fine.’

Speaking this morning, he said: ‘I opened up my email up this morning to find out I’ve got a 5 which is the highest I could get on the maths GCSE exam I took. I’m delighted to have got it.’

Mr Skipper decided to take the exam ‘to keep his mind occupied’. He did all of his lessons on Zoom, with a course run by The Cam Academy Trust in Cambridge.

He said: ‘I’m getting a little bit old, and I’m not doing as much in the garden these days. I wondered what I should get up to in the winter to keep my mind occupied. A leaflet came through the door from the local college, and I thought I would try and learn a bit more about maths. Like most people who don’t understand maths much, it gave me the opportunity to learn something.’

Mr Skipper has urged others to do the course, adding: ‘The local authority are very good in terms of facilities they offer. I think it is such a disappointment that people don’t take up these opportunities.

‘On a Zoom system, it is so easy for elderly people as going out to college in the night time and the winter is not very nice. But when it comes to your door and you are sat in front of a screen with a good instructor, it is wonderful.

‘Start the course this September, and go to your local college and turn around and say that you want to take an exam. Why not have a go?’

He also told how he was ‘surprised’ when he realised he was the oldest person ever to take his maths GCSE.

Mr Skipper said: ‘I didn’t really give much thought into it, as it just never occurred to me that I might be the oldest person.’

As a youngster, he missed only one day at school during the Second World War – when a bomb blew his front door on to his bicycle wheel and left him with a puncture.

He earned five School Certificates – the precursor to O Levels and the equivalent to GCSEs – including maths which was gained with the help of a slide rule and a book of tables.

And after leaving school, he signed up for the Royal Air Force at 18 to learn a trade and became a radar fitter.

He described himself as a ‘typical boy’ when he was in his school days.

Mr Skipper said: ‘It was just after the war and there was all of the bomb damage although it wasn’t very important to us. I certainly wasn’t academic by a very long way. I did my exams, and I did pass them but I was just doing something I was told I had got to do.

‘Now having done it as a mature student, it all does make a bit more sense. I have started to understand a lot more about Maths, and it is quite interesting.’

He has also tried to persuade his wife of 61 years Nancy, to take a GCSE exam. Mr Skipper added: ‘She has been supporting me and helping me out. I’ve tried to persuade her to have a go at it, but she’s a bit reluctant.’

He currently doesn’t have any plans to take any more GCSEs. Mr Skipper said: ‘I think that is going to be my lot and I’m going to retire now. Having one is enough for me.’

And the Liberal Democrats said the Government deserves an ‘F’ for letting down pupils, parents and teachers in the pandemic.

The party’s education spokesman Munira Wilson said the Tories had ‘failed our young people yet again’.

She said: ‘Young people receiving their results today faced unprecedented disruption to their studies. The Government deserves an ‘F’ for letting down these pupils, their parents and their teachers since day one of the pandemic.

‘This uncaring Conservative carousel of education secretaries cannot be trusted with our young people’s future any longer.

‘We need proper investment in helping children recover lost learning from the pandemic, and we need them gone.’

Education expert Alan Smithers has predicted that, in line with the move back towards pre-pandemic grading, there could be some 230,000 fewer top grades in the UK compared with 2021, but 230,000 more than 2019.

Mr Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said he expects top grades to fall, with more pupils failing and a slight narrowing of the girls’ lead over boys.

The ASCL said results out this week are likely to be ‘uneven’ across different schools and areas, and reflect the ‘turbulent circumstances’ of the pandemic.

Its general secretary Mr Barton appealed to schools watchdog Ofsted to bear these factors in mind.

He said: ‘Schools and pupils have been affected to varying extents by the pandemic and the consequent disruption to learning, and it is likely that results will reflect these turbulent circumstances and will be uneven.

‘Where infection rates have been high across the last two years, it is likely to have resulted in more staff and pupil absence, in addition to the periods in which schools were closed to most pupils.

‘Despite the best efforts of schools to support pupils with remote education and to plug learning gaps, this situation will inevitably have had an impact on learning.

‘Schools have not been helped by the Government’s lacklustre and chaotic support for education recovery.

‘It is important to understand this year’s results at school and pupil level in this context and we would urge Ofsted and Regional Schools Commissioners in particular not to rush to judgments.’

A spokesman for Ofsted said: ‘We do not base our judgments on exam results, test scores or other data.

‘We use data, in context, as a starting point for our discussions with school leaders about what they are teaching children and how they are running their school.’

A spokesman for the Department for Education (DfE) said: ‘We have set out a range of measures to help level up education across England, including targeted support both for individual pupils who fall behind and whole areas of the country where standards are weakest.

‘This is alongside £5billion to help young people to recover from the impact of the pandemic, including £1.5billion for tutoring programmes.

‘Pupil Premium funding is also increasing to more than £2.6billion in 2022/23, whilst an additional £1billion is allowing us to extend the Recovery Premium for the next two academic years – funding which schools can use to offer targeted academic and emotional support to disadvantaged pupils.’

Meanwhile, results could be recorded for non-binary pupils rather than just girls and boys in future exam breakdowns. 

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), a membership organisation comprising the eight largest providers of qualifications in the UK, said it is ‘looking at this’ possibility for future data on results.

When results are published, data is given on the performance of girls and boys, enabling comparisons to be made.

A-level results, out last week, showed that boys were narrowing the lead held by girls when it came to the top grades.

A spokesman for the JCQ said: ‘The JCQ tables currently include breakdowns by male and female gender types.

‘JCQ and its member awarding organisations do not collect the data required to include breakdowns for non-binary candidates. However, we will be looking at this in the future.’

Dr Jo Saxton, Ofqual’s chief regulator, said the results are ‘a testament to students’ hard work and resilience’.

She said on her visits to colleges and schools across England ‘the overwhelming message’ from students and staff was that they wanted exams and formal assessments to take place, with pupils keen for ‘a chance to prove themselves’.

Exam board Pearson said it had consulted with LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall and has ‘started the process’ of updating its systems to collect data for non-binary students.

A spokesman said: ‘As a Stonewall Top 100 employer, Pearson works with Stonewall on a range of matters including how data might be collected for non-binary learners.

‘We are pleased to share that we have started the process of updating our systems to enable this – and we commit to consulting with key stakeholders to demonstrate our continued support for the non-binary community.’

Students at a school in Wigan, Greater Manchester, speak to BBC Breakfast this morning as they pick up their GCSE results

Students at a school in Wigan, Greater Manchester, speak to BBC Breakfast this morning as they pick up their GCSE results

Separately, a charity warned that deaf children are being failed by an education system that has seen them achieve an entire grade less at GCSE for five years in a row.

Teenage mother who took her son to prom reveals ‘pride’ at GCSE marks

Teenage mother Melissa McCabe, 16, with son Arthur

Teenage mother Melissa McCabe, 16, with son Arthur

A teenage mother who took her son to prom has revealed how she is ‘proud’ of herself after receiving her GCSEs results today.

Melissa McCabe, 16, from Tranmere on the Wirral, became a mother to son Arthur in November 2020, after finding out she was 28 weeks pregnant aged just 14.

She told how she faced high levels of criticism and prejudice from older people after becoming a mother so young and had been concerned she would have to drop out of school.

But Melissa said: ‘After exploring my options, I decided to continue with education and I’m so happy I did. I’m really proud of myself and my results.

‘There’s always going to be a little voice nagging in my head that I could’ve done better, but I’ve honestly worked so hard to get to this point.

‘I once had a teacher tell me I was never going to make it, and that was before I had Arthur, so to prove them wrong has felt amazing. My favourite topics were English and business, and I felt I did really well in both.’

She said that there were ‘points where it was quite difficult trying to study and revise as well as being a mum’, but she had been given plenty of help from her brother Kyle, 30, and her sister-in-law Amy since Arthur was born.

Melissa added: ‘As a teen mum, there’s a lot of preconceived stereotypes which come along with the title. I’ve had adults make snide comments at me, like it’s their taxes paying for my son, and that I’m not fit to be a mum.

‘Yet I’ve stayed in education in order to provide for my son and to make a life for the both of us, and I receive very little benefits. Once I start attending college to study health and social care, I plan on getting a part-time job to help me even more.

‘People need to start minding their own business, and if they don’t have anything positive to say, they should keep it to themselves. I’m doing my best to be the best mum, and best person I can be.’

The National Deaf Children’s Society said young people with hearing difficulties are not being supported properly and are therefore suffering when it comes to learning and exams.

The charity said its analysis of 2021 results showed that deaf children achieved a grade 4 on average, compared with a grade 5 for all children.

In looking at the average Attainment 8 scores – which measure the achievement of a pupil across eight different subjects – it said there had been a full grade difference each year dating back to 2017 between deaf children and the higher grade achieved on average by all children.

There are more than 50,000 deaf children in the UK, of whom about 45,000 are in England, according to the society.

The charity said that DfE data shows attainment gaps in key subject areas including English and maths, with just over a third (37.7 per cent) of deaf children getting a grade 5 in both these subjects, compared with more than half (51.9 per cent) of all children.

The society has urged the Government to use its review of how children with special educational needs and disabilities are supported in schools to ‘develop a plan to provide effective, long-term specialist support for deaf children in schools’.

It is also urging the Government to invest in more specially qualified teachers of the deaf, whose numbers it said research has shown have fallen by almost a fifth (17 per cent) over the last decade, as well as other specialist staff.

Mike Hobday, director of policy and campaigns at the charity, said the results disparity is ‘yet further proof that our education system is consistently failing deaf children’.

He said: ‘The current set-up is simply not fit for purpose and, without targeted investment in Teachers of the deaf and other frontline staff, nothing will change.

‘Deafness isn’t a learning disability and there’s no reason why deaf children should achieve less than hearing children. The issue is clearly a lack of support. This needs to be a serious wake-up call for anyone working in deaf education.

‘If the Government fails to act during the Send (special educational needs and disability) review, generation after generation of deaf children will keep being let down by a system that is meant to support them.’

A spokesman for the DfE said: ‘All children and young people, including those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, should receive the support they need to succeed in their education.

‘There is a legal requirement for qualified teachers to hold relevant mandatory qualifications when teaching classes of pupils who have a sensory impairment.

‘Our Send and alternative provision green paper proposals will build on this support, aiming to change the culture and practice in mainstream education to be more inclusive. 

‘This includes through earlier intervention, improved targeted support and better workforce training.’

Commonwealth Games swimmer picks up top results

Jade Phiri has achieved outstanding GCSE results - six grade 9s and three grade 8s - at Millfield School in Somerset today

Jade Phiri has achieved outstanding GCSE results – six grade 9s and three grade 8s – at Millfield School in Somerset today

Three weeks after achieving her dream of competing at the Commonwealth Games, a teenager has achieved outstanding GCSE results.

Jade Phiri, who was representing Zambia, achieved great success across three different events – finishing first in her women’s 50m butterfly heat, second in her women’s 50m freestyle heat and third in her heat for the mixed 4x100m medley relay.

The 16-year-old, from Lusaka in Zambia, has balanced her academic studies around her rigorous training schedule and has now received six grade 9s and three grade 8s at Millfield School in Somerset.

Alongside her swimming endeavours, Jade is also an accomplished rider and was selected to represent Zambia in the African Confederation of Equestrian Sport Championships in Algeria.

Jade, who joined the school two years ago, said: ‘Knowing that I would be swimming in the Commonwealth Games just a month after my GCSEs, and making sure that I was still training to the best of my abilities, whilst balancing revising for my exams, was a major challenge.

‘Knowing what to put first in that moment was really difficult, and it was all quite overwhelming.

‘With the help of my housemistress, Emily Tait, and my coach, Rachael Aldington, I was able to put together a two-month plan which incorporated my study, swim and rest time.

‘I personally would feel guilty if I missed a session in order to revise, so my schedule really helped to manage my week and make sure I got enough time in the pool, but also time to focus academically.

‘I’m hugely grateful for all the support I received from my coach, teachers, and housemistress, as I truly wouldn’t have been able to manage such a busy time without all their help.’

Jade’s dedication and commitment bore fruit in Birmingham, and saw her put in impressive performances across all three events for which she was selected. ‘The Commonwealth Games was honestly incredible,’ she said.

‘It’s a competition that I have always dreamt of competing in and being able to actually compete was one of the greatest experiences in my life so far. Being a part of these games, among some of the best swimmers around, was truly out of this world.

‘It was an experience that I will cherish for many years to come as I aim to continue my swimming journey.’

Jade will be remaining at Millfield to study A-levels in biology, chemistry and mathematics.



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