Sir Peter Lampl, Founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
“Considering the significant disruption these youngsters have faced as a result of the pandemic, those receiving their GCSE results today should be rightly proud of their achievements.
“As we move back to pre-pandemic grading standards, today’s data continues to show regional disparities in attainment. Despite a noticeable improvement in the North East compared to 2019, it is still the region with the lowest proportion of top grades and London continues to outperform the rest of the country.
“While it is encouraging that the gap between state and independent schools has narrowed, a considerable difference in attainment remains.”
As expected, grades at GCSE have fallen this year. However, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, passing grades are still up on 2019, with those at 4/C or above up 0.9 percentage points (68.2% compared to 67.3%), and the highest grades (7/A and above), up 1.2pp from 20.8% to 22%.
England has seen bigger falls in grades compared to the other nations, as planned. While in England, the top grades are 0.9 percentage points above 2019 levels, in Wales they are still 3.3 percentage points above 2019, and in Northern Ireland 4 percentage points
The number of grade 7s or above at independent schools in England has decreased by 6.5 percentage points compared to 2022, compared to smaller falls of 4.1pp at comprehensives and 4.5pp at academies. Grades fell most at grammar schools, by 7.2pp compared to last year.
This means the state/independent gap has narrowed somewhat this year.
London again has been moving ahead of the rest of England. For top grades (7 and over), the largest differences compared to 2019 have been in London (+2.7 percentage points), East of England (+1.4pp) and the North East (+1.2pp), with the South East also seeing a rise (+0.9pp).
Looking at those achieving a pass (grades 4/C and up), similarly there have been increases in several regions compared to 2019, including London (+2.0pp), East of England (+1.5pp) and the North East (1.5pp). Results stayed the same in the East Midlands, and fell (-0.1pp) in the North West.
NATIONAL REFERENCE TEST
The National Reference Test provides a benchmark for achievement in English and maths that is consistent over years and not subject to policy decisions on grade boundaries. Last year’s data showed a drop in performance in both subjects compared to pre-pandemic levels, but more pronounced in maths.
This year’s data shows trends in English and maths moving in opposite directions. English grades at both 7 and above and 4 and above have improved since 2022, and are now closer to pre-pandemic levels (2020). However maths grades have fallen further since 2022, at both Grade 4 and Grade 7.
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