GCSE results day: five things to look out for as students receive their grades

Students get their GCSE results last summer at the Open Academy in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Students get their GCSE results last summer at the Open Academy in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Today, the anxious wait will end as thousands of teenagers finally learn their GCSE results.

Pupils and staff will receive the rewards of years of work, and schools, academy trusts and councils will be judged by their performance. Here are five things to look out for.

The big picture

Last year, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire were in the bottom half of the national league table, with Cambs performing the best.

Results slipped across most of England due to tougher league table rules, but although the proportion of Norfolk pupils gaining the government's target of five GCSEs at A*-C, including English and maths, fell from 54pc to 52pc, the county actually climbed 19 places.

The county council launched its school improvement plan two years ago, and it will be disappointed if there is not a big improvement. Its last forecast was for 60pc of pupils to get the gold standard - but last year's prediction was overly optimistic.

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Coasting schools

The government is creating a new category of 'coasting' schools that could be taken over if they do not have a good improvement plan.

The definition of 'coasting' is based on exam results for 2014, 2015 and 2016, and 2014's GCSEs showed 17 Norfolk high schools were potentially in the danger zone.

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However, if at least 60pc of pupils reach the government's target of five good GCSEs today, they definitely will not be classed as coasting.

Two other pieces of data used to define 'coasting' - students making expected progress in England and maths - will not be known today.

Schools withholding results

Last year, a handful of schools did not disclose their GCSE results while they were appealing some grades.

These were also schools with disappointing results, and they only revealed their figures in November, after the October deadline for school applications had passed.

This year, the government will - for the first time - publish a provisional GCSE league table in mid-October, so even if schools do not release results today, parents can find out how they performed before deciding to apply.

Schools in Norwich

The results of three struggling city schools will be closely watched.

Both the Hewett and Sewell Park College have seen their governors replaced, and new heads appointed. Have these interventions raised achievement, before the schools become academies on September 1?

For the past two years, City Academy Norwich has recorded some of the worst GCSE results in England, but, to the surprise of some of its staff, Ofsted did not put it in special measures after an inspection in March.

It will be hoping for a substantial improvement on the 29pc of pupils who achieved the gold standard last year, to justify Ofsted's judgement.

Regional variations

Last year, Norwich lost its unwanted title as the having the worst GCSE results in England; instead, it was fifth worst, with Waveney second and Great Yarmouth eighth.

Lowestoft has a particular problem, with three of its four high schools in special measures last November.

The fact that two have since improved their inspection ratings has sparked hopes education in the town has turned the corner. Today's results will be an early test.

Keep an eye on our live blog, results page and interactive map as GCSE results come in through the day.

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