Strange isn`t it, that whenever British governments, dominated as they always are by the privately educated, decide the time has come to change the GCSE gradings, it always follows a few years of examination success for the state sector? With teaching unions rightly complaining about the Pisa measurements being flawed, as some countries exclude from the testing "certain types of children to boost their scores", comparison with other countries` results is merely a smokescreen for the true reason for political concern; changes have to be made because there is so little difference these days between examination results of the schools in the state and private sectors.
Back in 1975, the old top O-level grade of "1" was replaced by an "A", but with so many students reaching the required standard because of teachers` and pupils`hard work, the "A*" came in., and now the "9", for the same reason and purpose, even though results reach schools with not only the the grades achieved, but the marks also! How insulting, then, for a DfE source to have the temerity to say that in the future "the top grade will be awarded only for top performance", as if it couldn`t have been previously because a small percentage of state school pupils attained it. Somehow, it seems, the examination system must be designed to reflect that private schools are worth the money, and like giving them charitable status, and exempting their fees from VAT, favours from governments are needed to ensure their continuing existence.
Gove, intent on taking education back to the two-tiered system of the 1950s, invented a non-existent crisis about "stagnating standards", and the results will be soon felt. He will be happy, no doubt, when thousands of pupils are deemed failures, and schools will, under Ofsted pressure, be forced to concentrate on the top 40 %, inevitably leading to 21st century secondary moderns. So much for the government`s concern for social mobility!