OxLEP calls on businesses to take action as GCSE grade changes kick-in

Almost half of the county’s business leaders are unaware of new grading system

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) is encouraging businesses to take action as young people – keen to secure apprenticeships and employment – get set to receive GCSEs, based on newly-introduced numerical grades.

Later this week, teenagers in England will no longer receive A* to G grades in English Language, English Literature and Maths and will now be graded from 9 to 1 – with 9 representing the highest possible grade.

Results from a recent OxLEP survey of the county’s business leaders suggest that up to 40 per cent are not aware of the Department for Education changes, introduced to give greater distinction to a student’s level of achievement.

Broadly-speaking – the new system will see those formerly scoring a ‘low’ grade A now achieving a grade 7. Those scoring a ‘low’ grade C will now gain a grade 4, whilst a ‘low’ grade G will align to a grade 1.

The changes will only be applicable to English Language, English Literature and Maths grades with remaining subjects transferring to the numerical system over the next two years.

OxLEP is encouraging businesses to better understand the changes and the likely impact it will have – especially in relation to future recruitment and talent development plans.

Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said: “Results from our survey reveal that 40 per cent of business leaders in Oxfordshire aren’t aware of these alterations – therefore, we want to encourage our businesses to understand the changes and be as prepared as possible.

“These changes will undoubtedly have an impact on businesses – particularly those smaller set-ups, looking to recruit, who may not have a human resources team to rely on. However, businesses should take action and look to update all recruitment-based materials where required.

“There is a particular urgency for businesses – offering apprenticeships that start in the autumn – to fully understand these changes, as good English and Maths grades are often seen as essential.

“Many apprenticeship vacancies will be targeting students who have completed GCSEs this summer – therefore, an individual’s English and Maths grades will not relate to the previous system.”

OxLEP is also calling on businesses to make full-use of work experience programmes, particularly for young people set to start GCSEs in September.

The same OxLEP survey also revealed around a third of Oxfordshire businesses had not offered young people work experience opportunities at any stage over the past two years.

Nigel Tipple added: “Work experience is an excellent way for businesses to initially engage young people, in particular, for those looking to introduce apprenticeship or training programmes.

“Discovering young talent – willing to learn within a business through good work experience programmes – can help organisations to stay ahead of competitors and, in-turn, support young people to make better-informed decisions as they move towards the world of work.

“At OxLEP we empower young people, through employers, to develop skills as well as linking education providers with businesses. We would encourage organisations to contact us to explore work experience schemes for the upcoming academic year.”

For more information on the grade changes and work experience, go to our GCSE changes page or call OxLEP on: 0345 241 1196.