GCSE Results 2017


Results at the new top grade 9 (from here)

Well, at least the headlines in the MSM are not as misleading as they were for the A Levels. Girls are doing emphatically better than boys, as they have been doing since GCSEs replaced O Levels in 1987.

A new grading system was introduced this year for pupils in England in three subjects: English Language, English Literature and Maths. The new scoring has 9 as the top grade, and this represents a higher level of performance than the previous A* (which is equivalent to a new grade 8 or 9). The graphic which heads this post shows the results by gender in this top grade. Roughly twice as many girls got top grade 9s (the caption claims 60% of grade 9s were for girls, but I think this is an under-estimate).

However, this is partly because there were two English subjects, in which girls do better, but just one subject, maths, in which boys do better. Boys got roughly 40% more grade 9s in maths. But girls’ dominance in English was more emphatic – with about twice as many girls getting grade 9s in English Literature, and nearly three times as many in English Language.

Achieving top grades at GCSE is significant because this is a reliable indicator of A Level performance – and hence university entrance. For example, your chances of getting an A* at physics A Level if you did not get an A* at GCSE are virtually zero.

Of greatest interest is whether Michael Gove’s changes to the examination system involving the downgrading of coursework would lead, as many expected, to a reduction in the gender gap. It has not.

It is usual to concentrate on nominal ‘pass’ grades, defined as grades C to A* under the old system and grades 4 to 9 in the new system. (NB: In the new system the pass mark has been lowered; an old grade C is midway between new grades 4 and 5). Over all subjects, girls have an average pass gap over boys this year of 9.5%, compared to 8.9% in 2016. In fact the gender gap has been roughly around 10% for the last 25 years (see here).

Across all subjects at the higher grades (A/A* or equivalently grades 7 to 9) the gender gap is about 7.5% in favour of girls. However the proportion of candidates achieving these highest grades is falling, apparently due to the reforms making the exams harder – see graphic below,

Girls have widened the gap particularly in English language – despite the introduction of a reformed GCSE in the subject which features less of the coursework which many supposed favoured them. The results for England show that 70.9% of female entries were awarded at least a C (or 4) grade, compared with just 53.5% of males. That 17.4% gender gap compares to last year’s 16.1%. And when grade 7 (or A) or above is considered, the gap is even more emphatic – more than double – with 18.5% of girls achieving these grades compared to 9% of boys. Finally, as seen above, at the top grade 9 in English Language there are three times as many girls. So, the higher the attainment level examined, the more dominant are girls in English. (These data from here).

However, in maths the results for England show that 16.5% of male entries were awarded at least an A or a 7 grade, compared with 14.7% of females. Hence there is a gender gap in favour of boys in maths at these grades of 1.8%, which is larger than last year (0.8%), though still rather small. A word of caution: I have not yet seen the absolute numbers of candidates – so it is possible that this greater percentage of boys doing well in maths does not mean a greater absolute number of boys doing well.

Last year, maths was the only subject in which boys received a higher proportion of top grades than girls. But this year, boys have done better than their female peers (based on this metric) in maths, physics, economics and statistics.

Next year it may get far harder to compare results by gender. The exam boards are actively consulting with charities, including Stonewall, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charity, with a view to record results against three gender categories next year.

Obviously, mra-uk officially supports proceeding directly to the use of all 57 varieties of gender immediately (or is it 157, I forget).




10 thoughts on “GCSE Results 2017

  1. Colin Carter

    Enlightening article, as always. Just to call you out on one small point, the pass grade hasn’t lowered under the new system: the bottom of a grade 4 is equivalent to the bottom of an old grade C. It’s true that grade C overlaps with both of grades 4 and 5, but this is because of the increased differentiation at the top end of the 9-1 scale, not because the minimum standard has dropped.

  2. Martin Scherer

    I do feel sorry for young peole today.

    “Next year it may get far harder to compare results by gender. The exam boards are actively consulting with charities, including Stonewall, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charity, with a view to record results against three gender categories next year.”

    Labelling people by their sexual behaviour before they have chance to discover their sexual preference is unfair and using them in adult’s political battles.

  3. Paul

    Well, the lesson from these results is clear. We must move heaven and earth to destroy any male advantage in maths. Stand back and watch this happen.

  4. AJ

    The neglect of significant research effort into why boys are doing worse than girls educationally like the similar lack of effort understand the differences in suicide rate is a clear indication of just how gynocentric modern society is.

    When I was a boy the gap was the other way around and action was taken to ‘correct’ the gap despite the lack of research and that the diagnosis (Exams as a means of assesment are unfair to girls) was at best dubious. It would be nice if some action was taken to support boys and girls although I do not like disciminatory solutions. Requiring schools to report on and being ranked by their gender gap along with matching the support for girls with support for boys would be a good start.

    There ar emany plausible candidates for the gap and no reason to think there is a singel cause – many projects to encourage and support girls in various ways and next to none for boys, exterme gender distribution amongst teachers, gender bias in the appraisal of pupils work by teachers, a general bias against nerdy/brainy boys in the media.

    Despite everything the general message regarding gender in education,as in everything else is still that girls are disadvantaged. Moving the media and general perception to more closely reflect the reality of the disadvantages each sex faces is key but given the overwhelming evidence of significant male disadvantage and despite this the constant message of female disadvanatge I have no idea how this can be achieved.

  5. Douglas Milnes

    There might be no harm in recording 57 varieties of the (sub)social definition that is gender.

    However, there is no excuse not to keep recording the SEX of the pupil, as well.

    1. AJ

      I collegue of mine’s wife works in genetic couching. They had a complaint that their standard form given to patients asked for their sex rather. They have responded by removing the question despite sex being very significant in many genetic disorders. Totally barmy if clinicians feel afraid of asking a patients sex. I would argue neglegent not to ask and record.

  6. Steve

    Has there been any authorstive research into why the gender education gap exists or is it just ignored because it’s girls who are benefiting from our education system?

    Actually I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a campaign started to improve girls success in maths because they lag the boys and this is obviously down to some type of patriarchal plot!

    1. William Collins Post author

      There have been vigorous campaigns to encourage more female take up of maths, physics and engineering for decades and this continues, assisted by the professional institutes. There are no comparable programmes for boys/young men despite males being those educationally disadvantaged. The reasons for male underperformance are contentious. Limited research in the area is, in my view, suspect because it tends to be driven by prior gender-political bias.

      That the educational establishment is willing to change syllabuses to suit girls better is illustrated in this post: http://empathygap.uk/?p=379. The serious and increasing educational disadvantage of males prompted the recently retired UCAS chief Mary Curnock Cook to highlight the problem – year after year – with remarks like “poor white males should now be the focus of outreach efforts“. Despite that, in replying to an FoI enquiry raised by J4MB, “Does the DoE recognize boys’ underachievement as a problem to be addressed, and if so, what initiatives are in place, and how much is budgeted for them in 2015/16?” the Department of Education responded on 30th July 2015 thus, “The Department does not fund any initiatives that just focus on addressing boys’ underachievement.” The matter is further discussed here: http://empathygap.uk/?p=915.

      So – what is the cause of male educational underachievement? A feminised schooling system contributes. Lack of male role models – both at school and at home – contributes. But probably the most serious thing (and this is just my opinion) is the destruction of the male role. Boys now lack motivation because they don’t know what being a man consists of. And then there’s this – the disadvantage is, in effect, being driven by policy. Because the policy is to assist girls.

      1. Mike Buchanan

        And of course Justice Greening, a lesbian feminist, is Education Secretary and Minister for Women & Equalities – appointed, of course, by another feminist, Theresa May. Advantaging girls and young women over boys and young men has been the default position of all governments since 1987.


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