ASCL comment on link between GCSE grades and earnings

09/07/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders comments on Department for Education research showing that pupils who achieve higher grades at GCSE can expect to earn significantly more over their lifetime.
 
Commenting on Department for Education research showing that pupils who achieve higher grades at GCSE can expect to earn significantly more over their lifetime, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

Nobody is going to be particularly surprised that children who attain higher GCSE grades earn more in their lifetimes because they are obviously more likely to progress to higher education and well-paid jobs.

“What is more surprising is the lack of recognition that we will always have winners and losers in the GCSE grading system because the distribution of grades is determined by a mechanism which means it is largely similar from one year to the next.

“This mechanism has been disrupted by the changes forced by the pandemic. But in normal times it means that about one third of children at the age of 16 do not achieve at least a Grade 4 GCSE in the gateway subjects of maths and English. This is baked into the system. If we persist with this approach there will always be a ‘forgotten third’ who are likely to fare less well in life than other children. It is a key feature of the cycle of disadvantage which continues to blight our society.

“GCSEs are a well-recognised qualification, but there is surely an overwhelming case to rethink the current approach to how they are graded so that the system works in a better way for all our young people
.”