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Date: 31/08/2017

On Thursday 24 August, students from across the UK lined up to receive their GCSE results for 2017.

For students in England, the GCSEs are changing. As of this summer, GCSEs in English Language, English Literature and Mathematics will receive numerical grades instead of letters.

GCSEs will be graded 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade achievable. The new system allows for more grades compared to the previous method, allowing employers to distinguish between student accomplishments in each subject.

The four highest grades (A* - C) are being replaced by six numerical grades from 9 to 4. Grade 9 will be awarded to the very highest student achievers, however fewer students will be awarded a grade 9 compared to those who are awarded an A*.  Grades 4 and 5 are the near equivalent of a C or a low B.

Sophia Haywood, Policy Manager, Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Businesses need to adjust to the latest changes to GCSEs sooner rather than later. The changes will be seen as unsettling by firms across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, as well as schools, who found the traditional letter grading system appropriate.

“The change has taken the business community by surprise, and it is vital that the Department for Education supports those who are feeling unaware and un-consulted about the plans for a new grading system.”

Over the course of the next two years, the majority of GCSE subjects will move across to the numerical system, and by 2020 all students taking GCSEs in England will receive only numbered grades.

In 2013, the government announced its intention to reform and redevelop GCSEs to match the best systems in the world and keep pace with university and employer demands. It said GCSE content should be more challenging, but still be suitable for all abilities.

With more grades at the top end of the scale (6 grades instead of 4), students are better able to demonstrate their achievements and employers should also be able to match candidates’ abilities to available jobs more easily. As an HR professional or employer, you’ll be better informed how a student has performed in all their subjects, ensuring they have the most appropriate training, support and challenge in their role.

It is important that all businesses are familiar with the new system, regardless of the size or sector of the company.

You may need to update your IT systems so that your recruitment forms can accept numbers as well as letters.