WISERD GCSE blog series explores young people’s views on choice and fairness


Across England, Northern Ireland and Wales, many 16-year-olds are awaiting the release of their GCSE results tomorrow. This year, for the first time, students in England will receive results for some subjects using the new (9-1) grading system, while students in Northern Ireland and Wales will continue to have their papers graded using the existing A*-U system.

In her latest blog, Dr Rhian Barrance says:

This may be the first indication for many that there are differences between the GCSE assessment systems in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. However, the reality is that GCSEs have been becoming increasingly different qualifications across the three countries over the last five years.

In a three-part series of blogs published over the coming week, Dr Rhian Barrance will explore students’ perspectives on the fairness of GCSEs. The first part will outline the recent reforms to GCSEs across England, Northern Ireland and Wales, and consider students’ views on linear and modular courses.

Part two will address the controversial question of how much assessment should be completed in an exam hall under strict supervision, and how much should be completed by students in the classroom or at home. How can we ensure students are assessed fairly?

In the final part, Dr Rhian Barrance will discuss the subject of tiering – how has it changed in recent years, what are students’ views and experiences of tiering, and what are the alternatives?

This series highlights not only the lack of existing research asking students about their views and experiences of GCSEs but also brings us to question how confident we can really be that the grades students receive this week are a true reflection of their capability.