GCSE Results Summary 2021

Published 12th August 2021

We would like to congratulate all students receiving their GCSE grades this morning. The challenges set for each and every student nationally were significant, but the fantastic results posted nationally today demonstrate just how well students and their teachers adapted to the difficult circumstances posed by the pandemic.

Overall, today’s results data shows the proportion of grade 7’s and above rose to 30%, up from 27.5% last year. The proportion of grade 9 awards rose 1% from 6.6% in 2020 to 7.7% this year. The proportion of results achieved across all subjects at grade 5 (a strong pass) also increased from 61.5% last year to 62.8% in 2021. There was also a marginal increase in the proportion of students achieving a grade 4 (pass).

While there were increases in the top grades achieved, the rise at GCSE was significantly lower than at A Level, and there are strong indicators that teachers, who were tasked with assessing the grades awarded to their students this year, have adapted well to the task, and have marked with a great degree of consistency. While examination boards dipped into marking to check standards, fewer than 1% of grades awarded were adjusted through this process.

Design and technology saw its entry numbers drop from 98,468 last year to 91,185 this year, a drop of 7.4%. The number of students gaining grade 7 or above rose from 27.8% last year to 30.2, with girls making approximately twice as much progress in this group as boys.

The number of students gaining a pass grade of 4 or above dropped slightly from 79.4% last year to 77.2% this year (resulting from a shift upwards in grading across the board).

It is noticeable that looking at all subjects with 100,000 entries or less, the drop in entries across these subjects was a dramatic 23%. Engineering noticeably saw a 10.7% drop in entries from last year. We will carry out a complete, in-depth analysis of results as there are significant regional differences. The gap between the most deprived students and those from more affluent backgrounds has widened again this year.

Now is not the time for a deep analysis though, at this moment, we salute students and their teachers across the nation for the best of performances in challenging times, and we wish each and every one of you well on the next stage of your progression.

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