Drop in GCSE pass rates following reforms

Following Bridgend’s “best ever” GCSE results in 2016, the first cohort to have taken reformed GCSEs had a tougher time of it this summer, though overall pass rates remain decent.

The crucial A*-C benchmark pass rate fell across Wales to the lowest level since 2006. Part of the reason is the curriculum for GCSEs has changed – particularly core subjects like England and maths – with more focus on skills required for the workplace and less coursework.

Also, it’s believed pupils taking GCSEs in Year 10 (or earlier) may contribute to lower pass rates; Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor) is considering banning early entries.

So although pass rates have fallen, it’s hard to make a direct comparison between 2016 and 2017.

Cabinet Member for Education & Regeneration, Cllr. Charles Smith (Lab, Llangewydd & Brynhyfryd) acknowledged the impact of the reforms:

“This has been the first time that the new-style examinations have been in place and I want to congratulate all pupils for their hard work and achievements.”

As usual, there were stories of individual and collective success from the county’s schools.

99% of pupils at Bryntirion passed 5 or more GCSEs, 30% of whom achieved five or more grades at A*-A.

At Brynteg, 25 pupils achieved 10 or more grades at A*-A, while 25% of the year received at least 5 top grades.

It’s reported Porthcawl Comprehensive pupils achieved a record number of A*-A grades, with 56 pupils managing to get at least 8 top grades.

At Archbishop McGrath RC School, 90% of pupils achieved the benchmark 5 grades at A*-C compared to the Welsh average of just under 63%.

Pencoed Comprehensive managed what they describe as their best ever results for more-able students, with nearly 20% of pupils getting at least 5 grades A*-A.

Maesteg Comprehensive said pupils had done their very best “under difficult circumstances”; 97% of pupils achieved at least one GCSE at grade A*-C, while nobody will leave the school without a qualification.