Increase in percentage of top GCSE grades

Despite the new grading system, top GCSE grades have risen by 0.3% on 2018

There has been an increase in the percentage of top GCSE grades this year, despite the new numerical grading system.

The percentage of top grades (7/A and above) rose from last year’s 20.5% to 20.8% this year.

The pass rate has also risen slightly, from last year’s 66.9% to 67.3% this year.


Key findings:

  • 14% increase in number of girls taking computing – and girls outperformed boys, with just under 25% getting 7/A compared to 21% of boys
  • Top grades in English have dropped from 17.5% to 17.4%
  • Maths top grades have risen from 20% to 20.4%
  • 837 children received straight 9s in seven or more subjects – 66% of these were female, 34% were male
  • The only GCSE to see a fall in entries was religious studies (down 1.8%)
  • Art and design subjects had a 10% boost in entries

It is another strong year for independent schools, with 20% at Cheltenham College awarded grade 9, and 65% awarded 9-7.

At Eastbourne College, STEM subjects shone with over 80% awarded 9-7 in biology, chemistry and physics. 60% were awarded 9-7 in maths.

All Beech Hall School, pupils secured five or more GCSEs at grades 9-4, and at Burgess Hill Girls, well over half of exams were graded 9 and 8, with a record 76% graded 9-7.

Click on image for DfE fact sheet

The new 9 to 1 numerical grading system was introduced in England in 2017 in maths, English language and English literature, with more subjects gradually using the system. Next year, all subjects will have moved over to the new system.

The move is part of a wider reform of exams which has overhauled the content and structure of GCSEs. The new courses feature less coursework and modular courses have been scrapped in favour of linear GCSEs with exams taken at the end of the course.


More results will be celebrated in the October issue of Independent Education Today.