Yesterday was GCSE results day and County Durham’s young people have continued to perform well despite major changes to the exam system.

Students across County Durham have kept up their level of success from last year and there has been an improvement in the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

These results should be seen in the context of the ongoing reforms to the GCSE exams. For most subjects, GCSE candidates now receive a grade between 1 and 9.

Level 4 is a ‘pass’ – equivalent to the old ‘C’ grade – and level 5 is seen as a ‘good pass’. Less emphasis is now placed on coursework, with the final examination considered more important.

All across England, results have been in flux since the changes began and grades in all regions of the country dipped in 2017 when the new maths and English GCSEs were brought in.

This year in County Durham 60% of youngsters attained a grade 4 or better in both English and maths. This is the same as last year’s performance, which was an improvement on 2017 when 56% managed a grade 4 or above in these subjects.

This year, however, the average attainment score for all pupils taking English and maths has improved.

County Durham has also seen a slight improvement in its overall Attainment 8 score, which is the measure of a student’s average grade across 8 GCSE subjects. This year, the county’s Attainment 8 score was 44.7 as opposed to 44.4 last year.

The Attainment 8 score for disadvantaged pupils, however, has improved significantly. In 2018, this score was 35.5 but now it has gone up to 40.4.

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Cllr Olwyn Gunn, said, “We are delighted our young people have achieved such good results. The system has been changed significantly in recent years, with the removal of coursework and more difficult questions increasing the pressure on pupils during the exam period.”

“These results are testament to how hard our young people have worked. They also reflect the commitment of our teaching staff and the invaluable support provided by parents, carers and other family members.”

“GCSEs are important, but if you did not get the results you want, please do not worry. There are many paths to success and support is available, so make sure you seek advice and access the help on offer.”

Students who didn’t quite get the grades they wanted and would like to access careers advice can go to This website contains information on apprenticeships, job opportunities and training across County Durham for those aged 16 to 24.

County Durham’s A-level results, out last week, showed a significantly improved performance.

(Featured image courtesy of Karen from Flickr Creative Commons)

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