The change from letters to numbers: GCSE results update

GCSE Grades

As students collect their GCSE results, employers will need to understand the key changes that have happened to the grading system.

In the summer of 2017, students who took their GCSEs will receive a mixture of number and letter grades.  Here is a quick explanation from Ofqual.


The new number grades will relate to Maths, English Language and English Literature.  Most other subjects will have moved onto this system by 2019.  Here are some key facts:

  • The new scale is 1-9, with 9 being the highest grade
  • The new GCSE content will be more challenging
  • Fewer grade 9s will be awarded than A*s
  • The new grades are being brought in to signal that GCSEs have been reformed and to better differentiate between students of different abilities.


For employers who are recruiting apprentices aged 16 this year will have number grades for English Language, English Literature, and maths.  More subjects will move onto the new system in the next two years.  All students will have worked hard to get the best grades they could.  If a student has not achieved at least a grade 4 in their English Language and/or Maths, please speak to your training provider.  They will be able to offer support to ensure your apprentice achieves that minimum level by the end of their apprenticeship.  If you would like any support in recruiting your next apprentice, please use our contact page to get in touch.