From education to employment

GCSE Results Day 2023: Sector Response

GCSE sector response

With exams back to a sense of normality, GCSE Results Day 2023 begins today, 23rd August!

In this article, we will outline this year’s results as they come in and provide a space for the sector to react and have their voice heard.

Results back to pre-pandemic levels as grading returns to normal 

  • Top grades and standard passes in line with 2019, as part of the final step back to normal grading
  • GCSE results show an increase in entries in computer science, Spanish and history, with an 11.2% rise in entries in EBacc subjects since 2019
  • Students have more options than ever before, including T Levels and apprenticeships 

Over 640,000 young people are celebrating receiving GCSE results today and over 390,000 vocational qualifications are being awarded as young people prepare to move on to the next phase of their education. The proportion of entries achieving top grades (grade 7 and above) and standard passes (grade 4) are consistent with 2019, as grading moves back to normal.

Reflecting the fact that digital is one of the fastest growing industries and contributes significantly to the UK economy, there has been a 13.5% increase in pupils taking computer science since 2019, including more girls. There are similar trends at A level.

Nick Gibb, School Standards Minister

Schools Minister, Nick Gibb said:

“Pupils receiving their results today should feel very proud. I want to congratulate them all and give my thanks to the hardworking teaching staff that have helped them throughout this period.

“Today’s results are a testament to this Government’s longstanding work to drive up standards and expand opportunities for all in our education system.

“Pupils collecting results today can progress to one of many high-quality options including A levels, T Levels and apprenticeships.”

GCSE entries to modern foreign languages (MFL) this year increased by 5.1% compared to last year, and 9.2% compared to 2019, with increases in Spanish and French. This is ahead of the additional £14.9m investment for the language hubs programme due to start in September.

Entries to subjects in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), subjects which are considered essential to many degrees and other opportunities, have also seen an increase this year including in computer science and history.

Total entries across all EBacc subjects is up by 3.9% this year compared to last year, and 11.2% compared to 2019. This builds on the Government’s progress in raising standards in schools, with record numbers of schools rated good or outstanding, up from 68% in 2010 to 88% in December 2022.

The gap between independent schools and academies at grade 7 has narrowed from 33.3% in 2021 to 27.5% in 2022 to 25.5% in 2023. It has also narrowed from 26.5% in 2019.  

Pupils collecting results today will progress to one of many high-quality options including A levels, hundreds of apprenticeship routes, Vocational Technical Qualifications (VTQs) or T Levels. From September, students will be able to study new T Levels in legal and agriculture, with further options available over the next few years, adding to the 16 already available in subjects such as health, engineering and digital.

Grading has returned to normal this year for the first time after the pandemic, in line with plans set out by Ofqual over two years ago. This is to ensure that grades maintain their value and pupils get the result that best represents their performance. 

Top grades for 16 year olds in England are in line with 2019, with 22.4% of entries achieving a grade 7 and above. This is up 0.6ppt from 2019. This year’s results show that 70.3% of entries received a grade 4 or above – a standard pass – which is up 0.4ppt from 2019.

To recognise the disruption pupils faced because of the pandemic, pupils did receive extra support with formulae and equation sheets for GCSE maths, physics, and combined science exams, so there were fewer things to remember going into the exam. Exams in the same subject were also spread out more meaning students had more time to revise between papers.

Sutton Trust analysis of today’s data:


  • 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.


  • 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.
Gillian Keegan

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:  

“Congratulations to everyone receiving their results. This cohort have shown tremendous resilience in recent years and should be proud of all the work they’ve done to reach this milestone.

“Grading is returning to normal which means a pupil who would have achieved a grade 4 before the pandemic, is just as likely to achieve that this year.

“Students now have more options to choose from than ever before – such as our high-quality T Levels, including legal and agriculture starting from this September. They can also take A levels or earn and learn on a wide range of apprenticeships, from journalism to accountancy. 

“Whichever path students decide to take, they can have confidence it will set them up for a successful career. I wish everyone the very best as they move onto their next chapter”.

Sector Response

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said:

“Congratulations to everyone receiving their results today. You should all be proud of reaching this important milestone in your education.

“I welcome these results as our journey continues back to pre-pandemic arrangements.

“It’s inspiring to see what our learners have achieved. These learners have had to face immense challenges impacting on their learning opportunities over the past few years as they’ve progressed through their secondary schooling and onto their GCSEs.

“Don’t be too disappointed or hard on yourself if things didn’t quite go to plan today. Working Wales is a great place for you to discover the choices you have available to you to plan your next steps, or speak to your school for advice and support.

“I’d like to say a big thanks to our education workforce for their hard work and dedication helping students to fulfil their potential.”

Stephen Morgan MP, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, said:

“Labour wants to congratulate everyone receiving their results today.

“The qualifications they receive today are vital steps on the pathways to success for our young people and Labour recognises the hard work and effort that pupils up and down the country have shown despite facing immense challenges.

“Labour will offer every child two weeks’ work experience and high-quality careers advice, alongside expanding education, employment and training routes so more people than ever are on pathways with good prospects building on a broad curriculum which gives all young people the opportunity to thrive at school, developing the knowledge and skills that will help them succeed throughout life.”

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive — Management Accounting at The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing AICPA & CIMA, said:

“Today is a big milestone in the lives of many young people in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. They are receiving their GCSE results. For many of them, this represents the first big step on the path to the world of work. But have they been equipped with the right skills to make a success of it?

“New technologies like artificial intelligence will mean the demand for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) literate workforce will increase further in the future. Happily, government figures show an increase in the number of young people studying STEM subjects. It is clear that those young people are responding to the demands of the modern labour market, and giving themselves the best possible chance to succeed in the world of work.

“These changes are affecting our work as well. Accountancy is a now a digital profession. Many traditional tasks are being automated, opening up avenues for more purpose driven and value adding work for our profession. For example, management accounting, with its focus on business performance, data and value creation, is playing an expanded role beyond financial management to solve business and societal problems, such as optimising healthcare provision and assessing environmental impact and risks.

“Our profession is embracing and using technology every day. It is time to advocate for adding accounting to the list of STEM subjects taught in the UK. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Accounting recently issued a call for evidence to look into this issue. I look forward to reading the findings.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“Congratulations to pupils and teachers on today’s GCSE and vocational qualification results. An enormous amount of hard work has gone into these qualifications in often difficult circumstances and the young people receiving their results today deserve great credit for what they have achieved.

“Grades are lower this year than in the past three years because of a return to normal following the pandemic and are similar to the distribution of grades in 2019. However, we would caution against direct comparisons between this year’s grades and those in 2019 because of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and subsequent cost-of-living crisis on young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is likely that the outcomes for many of these young people will be affected by these factors and this may also impact on the results of schools which serve disadvantaged communities.

“The government has failed to grasp the gravity of this issue. It did not invest sufficiently in education recovery from the pandemic – causing its own recovery commissioner to resign in protest – and it has failed to address the high level of child poverty in the UK. We are concerned that this will lead to a widening of the attainment gap between rich and poor.

“This is the second year of the return to a full suite of public exams and once again this has meant hundreds of thousands of pupils having to sit a very large number of exams as a result of government reforms to GCSEs which our analysis suggests typically constitutes 22 papers over a length of 33 hours. The main use of GCSE and other Level 2 qualifications is to aid progression to post-16 courses and training, and such a huge weight of assessment should not be necessary for this purpose. Reform is needed to reduce the burden of exams and make greater use of technology in assessing pupils.

“Finally, we wish pupils receiving their results today every success for the future. There are a wide range of courses available in our excellent colleges and sixth forms which will enable them to take their next step.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“We warmly congratulate students as they receive their results across a wide range of qualifications.

“These are testament to young people’s resilience following the pandemic and the hard work of themselves and of all school and college staff.

“These achievements should be celebrated and in no way diminished by the government’s decision to move back to pre-pandemic grading in England, which was always going to impact overall results. The student cohort, the context and the approach to grading has been different every year since 2019 so these results are in no way comparable with previous years.

“Yet young people’s ability to flourish and to progress in the next stage of their education or training is being hampered by government policy which imposes high stakes accountability upon schools and limits students in their choice of GCSE and VTQ qualifications.

“It is high time that school performance tables were scrapped and school leaders empowered to develop and deliver a curriculum and qualification offer that truly meets the needs of their students.”

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“Congratulations to all students receiving their GCSE, Applied General and other Level 2 qualification results today. Their hard work and efforts, supported by their parents, carers and educators, should be thoroughly commended. 

“The government acts as if the pandemic has had no after-effects. In fact, the damage it has done to students’ learning and well-being is enduring. Government decisions about grading boundaries have not done enough to take this this into account.

“Comparing schools based on exam results has always been inappropriate, even pre-pandemic, as doing so ignores the many factors that influence education outcomes. It also ignores so much about the education provision at a school or college. The impact of the pandemic differs from school to school, in ways that our accountability system does not grasp. Schools will be compared and judged on an unfair basis. 

“The problems with exams are not just those stemming from effects of the pandemic. There is a growing understanding that exams alone do not set students up for success in the 21st century,  and do not allow them to demonstrateall of their talents and capabilities. The benefits of a shift to a broader, more reliable assessment system are becoming more and more clear. The UK government should follow the lead of Wales and Scotland in reviewing assessment and curriculum in England, to ensure it is fit for purpose and fit for the future.”

Philip Blaker, Qualifications Wales Chief Executive, said:

“Congratulations to everyone in Wales receiving their results today. You have demonstrated what you know, understand and can do, and should be very proud of your achievements”

“Thank you to all the schools and colleges for their hard work supporting learners as we’ve taken the next step on our journey back to pre-pandemic assessment arrangements. 

The journey back is important when we consider long-term fairness for learners. Formal exams and assessments allow learners to demonstrate their knowledge and achieve grades based solely on the work that they have produced, whilst also allowing us to have comparability in approaches year on year. The grades that learners achieve measure their attainment and allow them to progress into further education, higher education or employment. 

There may be some learners who don’t achieve the grades that they had hoped for. My advice to them is try not to worry if you haven’t got the grades you need for your chosen progression route. There are many options available and different pathways to explore, and support will be available if you need guidance.” 

Teach First CEO Russell Hobby said:

“Congratulations to every young person on their results today. They are a tribute to their hard work and resilience. But when grades drop overall, with this year more than 200,000 fewer top grades than the year before, young people growing up in poverty are most likely to miss out.

“The pandemic has already dealt them a harsh hand and wiped out a decade of progress on tackling the attainment gap between them and their peers from wealthier homes.

“But with the right support, young people achieve great things against the odds, so after today we must ensure that the classes of Covid get the investment they deserve.”

Dan Hutchinson, Vice-President, HR, UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric: 

“GCSE results day is fast approaching, and many will be starting to think about higher education. With this, it is time to shine some light on alternative career routes, like apprenticeships, that don’t get as much recognition in schools as the traditional university path. 

“Fostering both technical and interpersonal skills directly in the workforce, these can be invaluable – especially for those most affected by the pandemic’s educational disruptions. They are also crucial to shape much needed talent to future-proof the workforce and support the government’s focus on greener jobs. 

“This year, we’ve seen increasing demand and doubled the number of opportunities for our Schneider Electric UK&I apprentice scheme. But we see there is still a general lack of awareness in the market about their benefits. Often, students don’t know where to start and perceive roles to be limited to manual labour. Businesses have a vital role to play in changing perceptions. This means investing more in relationships with education providers, starting with young school pupils, to increase understanding of the broad and valuable opportunities available.”

“Leaving school marks the beginning of the future; students should be reassured that there are many options available to help them to thrive and more than one route to success.”  

Steve Young, UK SVP and GM, Dell Technologies:

“We congratulate students receiving their results today for showing incredible resilience in the face of unparalleled disruption to their education. But disruption doesn’t stop –  the workplace is evolving at astonishing speed, and many young learners getting their results today will find themselves in jobs that don’t even exist yet. The number of students taking design and technology at GCSE and A-level remains low, so for the UK to build a tech talent pipeline that will keep us relevant in the global digital economy, perhaps we need to think more broadly and inclusively about what a future STEM education might look like.

Half (50%) of the UK school students we surveyed said they would like more technology-related subjects, such as esports, added to the school curriculum to improve their career prospects. Passion-led learning through subjects like gaming, while considered ‘unconventional’ by some, can nurture incredibly valuable skills, including problem-solving, strategic thinking and collaboration, and encourage more students to pursue technical education and career pathways.

“To ensure we support future learners with the skills they need and lay the best foundation for the future UK workforce, the public, private and third sectors have a responsibility to collaborate and explore fresh and exciting ways of teaching and learning at all levels of education.”

Professor Becky Francis CBE, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

“Congratulations to all pupils and schools receiving GCSE results today. These are the culmination of many years’ hard work– I hope you are proud of all you have achieved, and in extraordinarily challenging circumstances too.

“With the adjustments to grading, the number of pupils achieving a ‘standard pass’ in GCSE English and maths has fallen to 68.2%, a five percentage point drop from last year.This means there’ll be more young people required to carry on studying for these qualifications in an already stretched post-16 sector. As things stand, many are unlikely to achieve a pass even through resits.

“This has serious implications for individual students’ life chances. It is likely that those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds will be most affected, so the attainment gap must be carefully monitored, and support targeted towards pupils in greatest need of it.”

Melanie Waters, Managing Director of Trade-Up and Checkatrade’s new Get In campaign, said:

“Well done to students celebrating their GCSE results all over the UK. No matter how you did today, the next step of your journey now begins – a phase of life filled with exciting opportunities. These could be opportunities such as a career in green trades – working as an electrician, plumber, carpenter or builder.

“As students log in to online portals or open their envelopes, and begin to really think about their futures, we’re urging anyone who isn’t sure about what to do as their next steps to consider the opportunities offered to them by a career in trades. Not only are trade careers rewarding, in demand and secure but many carry the potential to earn up to £35,000 within a few years of qualifying.

“What’s more, lots of these careers offer apprenticeships too – a brilliant alternative to A Levels that mean you can earn while you learn.

“We know our trade industry faces an enormous skills gap, highlighted in figures released in our Trade Skills Index. Put simply, by 2032, we’ll require a staggering one million new tradespeople just to keep pace with demand. This gap is the result of various factors including Brexit, an ageing workforce, the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

“Firms across the industry responsible for crucial parts of our economy like housebuilding are now desperate that on this Results Day, more and more young people will consider becoming one of the missing million.

“We’re launching an exciting opportunity for young people called Get In. Through this initiative, we’re encouraging young people aged 16 and up to visit our About Apprenticeships website and submit their CVs so we can connect them with brilliant employers to secure their future.”

Baker Dearing Educational Trust director of education and innovation Kate Ambrosi said:

“Congratulations to all the UTC students who are receiving results today.  

“You pushed through the obstacles placed before you and will progress onto some fantastic destinations, whether that involves staying in education or progressing onto an apprenticeship.

“For those young people weighing up whether to choose a UTC for their next step, I would urge you to look at the excellent destinations our A Level, T Level, and technical and vocational course leavers have achieved this year. This includes Oxbridge, and degree apprenticeships at major employers such as Rolls-Royce, the Royal Navy and Global.

“UTCs are the foremost providers of technical education in the country, as can be seen by the breadth of our employer partners and the announcement this week that two more UTCs will be opening in Doncaster and Southampton.  

“So if you are looking to receive a high-quality, industry relevant education, choose a UTC.”

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said: 

“Congratulations to all students getting results today whether that is GCSEs, vocational technical qualifications or BTecs. These students have had their education significantly impacted by the pandemic and should be rightly proud of their achievements today.  However there are thousands who will have missed out on the grades they hoped for.

“In addition to the impact of Covid, over 75 million lessons for GCSE pupils getting their results this week were taught by non-specialist teachers.

“Liberal Democrats know that investing in schools and teachers is vital to give every child the chance to thrive. The Government must urgently put in place a proper schools workforce strategy to ensure we have the specialist teachers our children need”

Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“Students and their teachers have achieved another strong set of results in the most challenging of circumstances and despite the Government’s removal of mitigations put in place to account for the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This year’s students should be congratulated on securing these achievements despite years in which their education has suffered Covid disruption and under-funding.  “Teachers have continued to pull out all the stops for their pupils, but have been left to do their best without the necessary levels of investment in education recovery and catch-up support.

“Ministers must take responsibility for their decisions which have contributed to a widening in the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

“Teachers will always do whatever it takes to secure the very best for all their pupils. It is time that teachers and pupils had a Government that is prepared to do the same.”

Louis Hodge, Associate Director at the Education Policy Institute, said:

“The fall in GCSE results today was expected given Ofqual’s approach to returning grades to pre-pandemic levels. We have always been clear that there was no perfect solution to addressing the increases in grades that were seen under centre and teacher assessment, but the approach adopted
was reasonable and pragmatic.

“Given the decision to return to 2019 grade distributions, the overall results do not tell us much about overall standards or the ongoing impact of the pandemic. However, results from the National Reference Test, which was sat by a sample of students, suggest that outcomes in maths remain below their pre-pandemic levels. This is consistent with our own research on the performance of younger pupils which showed greater learning loss in maths than in reading.

“The changes in grades this year have not been equal across subjects, as some increased more rapidly under centre and teacher assessed grades. The percentage of candidates receiving the top grades in subjects such as computing, music, and PE have fallen by around 10 percentage points compared with last year.

“Today’s results reveal persistent inequalities in GCSE outcomes with a growing gap between London and the rest of the country. In London, 28.4% of entries were awarded a grade 7 or above, in the north east it was only 17.6%.

“While the grades seen in today’s results represent a return to pre-pandemic times, the environment for schools remains challenging. The pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in pupil outcomes and its effects are still being felt, with the disadvantage gap at its widest in a decade and pupil absences remaining stubbornly high.”

Vix Lowthion, Green Party Lifelong Education spokesperson, said: 

“Many students will rightly be proud of the GCSE, BTEC and T-Levels grades they have got today – outcomes achieved through hard work and excellent teaching. It’s a day to congratulate both students and teachers.  

“However, in education as in every other policy area, levelling up is just a slogan. The attainment gap between students from more affluent backgrounds and those from disadvantaged situations has grown ever wider under this Conservative government.

“We know that growing levels of poverty impact on being able to eat nutritious food, the quality of housing and having access to books and the internet which all have negative consequences on opportunities for child development and learning. The attainment of disadvantaged pupils is calculated to be 1.5 years behind that of their non-disadvantaged peers by the end of secondary school. 

“We must address the country’s chronic inequality by increasing taxes on the super-rich to raise the funds needed to boost key public services like health and education and to bring down the cost of living for the poorest in society through programmes like mass home insulation.” 

“The Green Party also believes that a move towards continuous assessment and away from a system of high stakes exams is critical to closing the attainment gap.”

Robert West, CBI Director of Education & Skills, said: 

“Congratulations to all those receiving their GCSE and vocational technical qualification results today. Both students and teachers have shown great resilience in the face of a number of challenges, not least the disruption caused by the pandemic. Today we celebrate their accomplishments. 

“As expected, we have seen grades at GCSE level return to pre-pandemic levels in England and we are seeing students opting for more vocational subjects such as computing and business studies. There are risks hidden within the fall in entries to languages, arts and design. A continued decline in student entries in subjects such as Design and Technology (D&T) could in fact hinder efforts to reduce skills shortages longer term in areas such as engineering and product design.  

“The difference in performance between those who receive free school meals and those who do not widened in 2022, with this trend seemingly continuing this year. The COVID legacy is becoming one of widening inequalities, and we are yet to see the robust recovery plans to prevent this holding back young people as they move through their education into the future world of work.  

“Equally, the gap between the performance of students in the North of England and students in the South widened further. It’s key that policymakers take much needed action on levelling up and regional growth – to boost the opportunities of students across the UK.”

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President EMEA,Skillsoft:

“Positively, there has been a 10.4% increase in the number of girls taking Computing subjects this year, with female students nabbing top grades. This is a step forward for the tech industry, which suffers from a perpetual gender divide and talent shortage. The increased investment in encouraging girls into the sector is paying dividends.

“However, with girls accounting for just 21% of total Computing students and women currently making up just 28% of the tech workforce, we must keep this momentum going. Historically, negative stereotypes have led many girls to believe they lack the natural aptitude to thrive in technology. And while the increase in girls taking tech subjects at GCSE this year suggests some of these prehistoric attitudes have been squashed, evidence shows girls’ interest in tech continues to wane as they age, even once they’ve entered the working world. We can’t afford to let this happen. 

“Schools and organisations must work together to cultivate a mentor-led environment that showcases the possibilities available to young women. For example, introducing coding clubs, career days and work experience that consciously target female students and tap into their interests. Highlighting technology’s pioneering female role models both within their organisation and throughout history can also help change the mindset that technology skills are the domain of men while inspiring the next generation of trailblazers.”

Hannah Birch, MD Digital at Node4

“Despite the continued growth of the technology industry, and new innovations like generative AI and large language models taking the world by storm, a huge STEM skills gap remains. In fact, 50% of companies are struggling to hire and retain a skilled workforce across the STEM sectors. But I am pleased to see that the future is looking brighter with 11.6% more students, and a 10.4% rise in girls, studying Computing compared to last year. As a nation that is in desperate need of these skills, this is fantastic to see. 

“It will be interesting to see how the Computing GCSE curriculum changes to keep pace with important developments in technology and what they mean for the roles available, and skillsrequired for a career in the industry. The growth of AI over the past year, for example, means the role of the coder is changing. They now take on a more editorial role, where they need to review the code created by AI and check that it is correct. Whilst AI is proving a revolutionary tool for automating certain tasks, humanexpertise will still berequired to do higher value activities, so education will remain crucial.

“By studying computing, students will be setting themselves up for a bright future by developing the skills that they will need to be a part of the change, rather than being left behind, and the curriculum should reflect these important technological changes.”

Dr Graham Gault, director of school leaders’ union, NAHT Northern Ireland, said:

“We warmly congratulate students as they receive their results across a wide range of qualifications.

“These results are testament to young people’s resilience following the pandemic and the hard work of themselves and of all school and college staff.

“These achievements should be celebrated and in no way diminished by the government’s decision to move back to pre-pandemic grading, which was always going to impact overall results.

“The student cohort, the context and the approach to grading has been different every year since 2019 so these results are in no way comparable with previous years.”

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.” 

Mark Bowman, Inspira chief executive, said:

“We understand that GCSE result day can be exciting but also nerve-wracking, and it can be difficult to understand your options once that envelope has been opened. 

“Inspira truly believes that whatever grades you have, there are options out there for you. That’s why we are providing support for young people on and beyond the result day. 

“Just get in touch and we can help you with a range of options because no one should be unsupported or left behind.”

Catherine Sezen, Director of Education Policy, Association of Colleges said:

“We would like to offer our warmest congratulations to all those students in schools and colleges who are receiving GCSE and vocational technical results today. For those young people firming up their post 16 destinations, remember that whatever your grades your local college will have a course for you. If you have questions, drop in for information, advice and guidance.

For colleges, Level 2 results day means reflecting on student achievement in a range of vocational and technical courses and GCSE English and maths both for their own students and for those joining from school. English and maths resists present a complex picture. A larger resit cohort this year means that although overall percentage achievement has fallen, the number of students achieving a GCSE in English and maths post 16 has increased on 2022; colleges should be proud that 59,000 students have achieved a grade 4+ in English or maths as a result of post-16 study in summer 2023. However, the growth in the year 11 cohort, combined with a fall in 4+ achievement mean that we estimate there will be considerable additional demand for post 16 English and maths resits at a time when colleges are facing staff recruitment challenges.”

Responding after today’s GCSEs results showed a greater proportion of students in England will have to resit maths and English exams during post-16 education, Sarah Hannafin, head of policy at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“Urgent change is needed to the current government policy which forces some students into what can be a dispiriting round of resits for maths and English until they achieve the required grade.  

“All students should develop the knowledge and skills in maths and English to enable them to progress to the next stage of their education or training, and for many students this will be achieved through GCSEs. But for some young people alternative qualifications in maths and English would be more appropriate and government policy should allow much more flexibility in this.

“Students who need to continue their learning in maths and English post-16 should not be forced into repeated resits which can lead them to feel disillusioned and disengaged.

“They should be able to take the qualification which they and their school or college deem most appropriate, be that a GCSE, or a functional skills or other relevant qualification – enabling them to move forward with their education, training or employment.”

Students who achieve a grade 3 have to retake their GCSE; students with a grade 2 or below can either take a functional skills level 2 or resit their GCSE.

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