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Almost a fifth of entries in some GCSEs in Wales this 12 months have been from Yr 10 college students

Massive numbers of pupils taking GCSEs early might be placing their training in danger, says the exams regulator.

Almost a fifth of entries in English language, Welsh and maths exams in the summertime have been from pupils from 12 months 10.

Faculties beneath strain over efficiency was an element to clarify the rising apply, a 10-month evaluate by Wales discovered.

Training Secretary Kirsty Williams has now introduced new guidelines so “pursuits of pupils are all the time put first”.

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Media captionPrivate maths tutor David Williams describes how pupils have been disillusioned after attempting to take GCSE maths exams too early

This follows beneficial modifications from Wales, which mentioned it believed “widespread use of early entry poses a big threat to learners”.

The modifications shall be:

  • How Welsh Authorities college efficiency measures are calculated, in order that solely the primary grade awarded to a pupil counts in direction of efficiency measures. Presently, colleges can depend one of the best grade by a pupil from a number of sittings.
  • A carry on the restriction on English language and Welsh language GCSEs that solely permits college students who’re re-sitting to be entered for exams in November.

The regulator believes it will imply early entries usually tend to be in one of the best pursuits of the pupil and also will restrict time spent in making ready for repeat exams.

It has additionally estimated that colleges spent greater than £three.3m in the course of the 2016-17 educational 12 months on early entry.


There have been greater than 43,000 early entries at GCSE final summer season – half approach into programs designed for 2 years.

Early entry was flagged as the main reason for the slide in Wales’ overall GCSE results this summer to the bottom degree for a decade taking a look at A* to C.

What does this report inform us about that? It’s actually not its essential focus. However it brings collectively some related knowledge.

Yr 10 pupils (14 to 15 12 months olds) accounted for 19% of the summer season 2017 entrants, up from 15% the earlier 12 months.

They tended to get decrease grades total.

However what this knowledge can not inform us is how large an element that was in explaining the autumn in GCSE outcomes.

There have been new exams too this time which might have performed an element. However a clearer thought of the pattern after subsequent 12 months and the 12 months after’s outcomes ought to counsel whether or not the give attention to early entry this summer season disguised different components in Wales’ poorer GCSE efficiency.

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Media captionArmando Di-Finizio, head of Japanese Excessive College in Cardiff, mentioned taking GCSEs early can provide pupils confidence

Wales admitted it was a fancy concern and mentioned it had taken a variety of opinions, each for and towards early entry.

“Most of these we spoke to indicated that the strain positioned on colleges by way of accountability and efficiency measures was an necessary issue contributing to the expansion of the apply,” mentioned chief govt Philip Blaker.

“We concluded that though early entry may be in one of the best pursuits of particular person college students in some instances, the continued large-scale use of the apply poses dangers to college students.”

Some academics informed the regulator that pupils’ studying matured, and lacking out on an additional 12 months might imply they missed reaching their full potential, particularly in a topic like English.

Ms Williams agreed, saying GCSEs have been designed to be sat after two years of educating, not one.

Mr Blaker added: “We’re not advocating a complete ban on early entry as a result of for some college students it could typically be the fitting resolution. For instance, the place a person pupil has mastered their course and is able to transfer on to a more difficult qualification.

“It could even be the fitting alternative for college kids vulnerable to leaving college earlier than reaching the top of Yr 11.”

Ms Williams mentioned early entries inspired a “educating the take a look at” method at the price of wider topic data.

“I’m involved that pupils who had the potential to get an A*, A or a B on the finish of a two-year course find yourself having to accept a C,” she mentioned.

“Too typically it’s because they take their examination early and will not be re-entered once more. I need each baby to succeed in their full potential at school. Early entry should solely be for the minority of pupils who will profit.”

Evaluation by Bethan Lewis, BBC Wales training correspondent

Getting higher efficiency knowledge and one of the best for particular person pupils shouldn’t be incompatible.

However the report paints an image the place the strain of hitting grade targets has the unintended consequence of faculties taking choices that may result in “vital threat” for pupils.

Sitting exams early will nonetheless be the fitting possibility for a lot of younger folks. And a few academics will see this as additional tinkering at a time when they’re having to regulate to a number of different reforms.

There are additionally those that consider strongly that having a apply run for all pupils is helpful and this transformation might imply that’s much less more likely to occur in future.