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News | Published October 20 2019

Only 1.5% of students with behavioural issues attain GCSE passes

According to figures published in the Guardian, only 1.5 per cent of pupils with behavioural issues attained passes in English and maths at GCSE this year.

This equates to one in every 25 pupils who had been excluded or identified as having challenging behaviour.

Four per cent of these pupils, who attend pupil referral units or alternative provisions designed to support their needs, attained grade four or higher in these two subjects. 

Only 1.5 per cent were able to attain level five or higher, the government’s preferred “strong pass.” Both of these figures were lower than last year.

More widely, the proportion of pupils in mainstream education who attained strong passes fell to below 44 per cent and the number of pupils who attained a level 4 in both of these core subjects stood at just below two thirds.

Responding to the publication of these statistics, Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College leaders, said: “Every year this ‘forgotten third’ is a feature of our exam system, not by accident but because it is baked in by the mechanism used to distribute grades. We cannot continue to accept that one-third of pupils must fail in order that two-thirds succeed.”

Criticising the government’s decision to label grade 5’s as a strong pass, Barton argued that: “It is measure designed to raise standards but in fact risks leaving students feeling demoralised even though they have done really well.”

A new GCSE grading system

In August of last year, the government introduced a new grading system for GCSEs.

Instead of the traditional “A,B,C” system, the new marking format is based on 1-9, with 9 being the highest and corresponding to an A*. 

While a grade of 4 constitutes a “standard pass”, the government included those who received a grade 5, known as a “strong pass”, in their academic tables, leading to a greater emphasis on the importance of this grade. 


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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
@theparlreview
October 20 2019

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