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Click Here to view the Ofqual blog guide for parents about the new grading for GCSEs.

GCSE Grades Are Changing

GCSEs in England are being reformed and will be graded with a new scale from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade. English literature, English language and maths will be the first subjects to be graded in this way from August 2017. The subjects with the highest numbers of candidates (e.g. arts, humanities, languages) will follow in 2018 and most others in 2019. During this transition, students will receive a mixture of letter and number grades. This is happening as GCSEs are being reformed to make them more challenging, to keep pace with employers’ and universities demands. In the first year each new GCSE subject is introduced, students who would have got a grade C or better will get a grade 4 or better. Grade 9 will be more difficult to achieve than a grade A*. To see how the numbered grades compare to the current A* to G system, click here or Google "ofqual 9 to 1 postcard".


Public Examinations

Public Examination dates are set by the exam boards and examinations take place all over the country at the same time.  Morning exams start at 9.15 am and afternoon exams start at 1.15 pm promptly.  They will be held in the school hall or designated room.  Students must memorise their exam candidate and line up for their examination promptly after checking their seat number on the examination seating lists displayed in the lower school dining area. If students are late they may not be allowed to take the exam and if allowed, the exam board can refuse to mark the paper.


If a student is ill on the day of a written exam and is so sick that s/he cannot come to school, a parent or guardian must ring the school immediately to inform the Attendance Officer.  As evidence of the sickness a medical certificate should be obtained which must be signed by the doctor.  The certificate should be sent to the Attendance Office at the earliest opportunity so that the relevant exam board can be notified of the reasons for the absence.


Equipment should be in a clear pencil case or clear plastic bag.  Students are responsible for their own equipment eg if  a calculator is brought in it is the student's responsibility to ensure it works and has working batteries.  A small supply of equipment is availale in school in the event a student does not have all they need for an examination

Examination Clash

If there is an examination clash exams will be undertaken one after the other, with supervised rest breaks in between.  The Examinations Officer  will be aware of this situation and will contact affected students in advance of their examination.


Valuable items should not be brought into school as they cannot be taken into the exam area and must be left in designated areas.  The school takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen.

Mobile Phones

Mobile phones and Smart Phones must not be taken into the examination room or anywhere near the room.  If a mobile is found on a student or even if a phone goes off during an examination the examination paper  may be disqualified.  Please see Smithills School mobile phone policy. Mobile Phone Policy

Examination Certificates

Students leaving Smithills in summer 2017 will be contacted around November 2017 to inform them that their Examination certificates are available for collection from school where they must be signed for. These certificates are very important and cannot be replaced – when you apply college, university and jobs you will need to show your certificates to prove your qualifications.


If you lose or damage your certificates you will need to contact the exam board. They will not send you a replacement but would issue you with an official list of your results and charge a fee for this service.



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