Changes to early entry at GCSE


In an interview with the Sunday Times, the Secretary of State Michael Gove announced that from 29 September 2013 (the day of the interview) only a student’s first entry to a GCSE examination will count in their school’s performance tables. This change is intended to deter schools from entering students into exams early to 'bank' a pass grade.

Mr Gove commented:  "The evidence shows that candidates who enter early perform worse overall than those who do not, even after re-sits are taken into account. 

It seems likely that candidates are being entered before they are ready, and ‘banking’ a C grade where their performance at key stage 2 would suggest that if they had continued to study the subject and taken theGCSE at the end of year 11 they could have achieved a top grade.

This is of particular concern in maths, where there is high progression from A*/A grade at GCSE to A level, but low progression from grades B and C.

In addition, I believe that this speaks more generally of a narrowed curriculum, focused not on sound subject teaching as a basis for successful progression, but on preparation to pass exams." 

The changes will not affect pupils who have already completed a GCSE, and the performance tables will still record their best result from either their previous attempt or from the next time they sit that GCSE.

We'd welcome NGA members' views on the changes - please send these to

DfE press release

Michael Gove interview in the Sunday Times
 (please note you need to subscribe to The Times website to view this article)

BBC article