GCSE Results Day 2020

Commentary on GCSEs 2020

By Martin Hodge, Senior Professional Officer (Policy)

Voice congratulates GCSE students and their teachers, whose hard work, dedication and commitment have enabled them to achieve today’s results. 

Unique and incomparable

Voice is particularly welcoming of the decision to issue students the Centre Assessed Grades awarded to them by the people who know them best, their teachers. This decision was key to assuaging the stress and anxiety being felt across England and Wales, and as a result most young people will now be able to look forward to a future full of opportunity.

It is impossible to know what students would have achieved if there had been the opportunity for them to complete their courses and sit the exams, therefore today’s results are unique and incomparable to anything published before. 

The significant disparity between Centre Assessed Grades and the moderated, standardised grades from Ofqual means that there is nothing to be gained from judging this year’s grades with those achieved in previous years.

We await announcements from the Government and Ofsted to understand what this may mean for schools and teachers regarding league tables, but it is likely that ramifications from the political decisions will continue to be felt over the coming weeks and months.

Performance impact

Schools and colleges are positioned in league tables based on student performance.  Some centres will have been more exacting in their predictions therefore, as previously noted, it is impossible to know what impact this year’s results will have. 

This is a golden opportunity for the whole accountability system to be re-examined, with more autonomy being given back to the profession, retention of a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, parity between vocational and academic qualifications and an end to performance measures which constrain and narrow the subjects on offer to students. 

This year we have seen a glimmer of what could be, when teachers are given more responsibility for assessing students.  There is a reliability and constancy when teachers are empowered to use their professional judgement, which can be seen this year for the first in a generation.

Although there has been some increase in the pass rate, this is because schools and colleges were invited to identify what students could achieve, rather than issuing a predicted grade. This provides a compelling argument for a return to more modular courses which, while providing opportunity for students to ‘bank’ progress as they go, would also safeguard the awarding system if, God forbid,  there were to ever be a similar situation as this.


The political interference and media scrutiny observed within the education system over weeks and months risk belittling the enormous efforts endlessly made by learners and their teachers, and we must not allow any of this to detract from the genuine achievements shown in today’s results.

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