The overall goal of the G.C.S.E program is to give those who attend it the skills to use mathematics in an effective manner in their lives, not just to get some stellar grade for bragging rights.

Charlie Stripp is a member of the National-Centre for Excellence In-The-Teaching Of Mathematics (N.C.E.T.M) and is a firm believer that a new, more foundation type, tier of maths education is needed for resit students in the UK and has suggested such on several occasions.


He believes that such a program would make it so students better understand the field of mathematics. Right now, the main focus of programs seems to be to help students pass their end of year exams.

As the Mathematics in Education & Industry group’s chief executive as well as the director of the N.C.E.T.M. he is less than pleased with the program’s examinations and states that his suggested new G.S.C.E program would be capped at grade-5 level information.
 Stripp thinks that the G.C.S.E should not be focused towards students getting good grades on exams over understanding math in the long term.

Instead of constantly registering repeated failures, doesn’t it make more sense to have another G.C.S.E that somewhat meets the common needs of students? This is Stripp’s argument even as he goes explaining that in his proposed changed curriculum, much of the current material would be kept from the current model.

This is even as anything that would be kept would be considerably shortened to encourage more thorough understanding by the pupils.


The major hurdle to such a change being made is that it would break current Ofqual rules. The solution to this is nonetheless simple, if the rules hurt education, change the rules.

Improving The G.C.S.E

Those who fail to get a grade 4 G.C.S.E are forced to continue their study of mathematics after the age of 16, those who fail to score above a grade 3 are made to resit the entire examination. For those who score lower than a grade 3, there are alternative certificates and examinations that can be taken.

For Stripp, his primary concern is the low pass rate among those have to resit a G.C.S.E in their further education. To put this number in perspective, only one in four who resat the mathematics G.C.S.E in the summer of 2017 received a passing grade. Stripp himself taught a resit class to see what challenges came with retaking the examination.

The government of the United Kingdom has announced that it will be allocating 8.5 million pounds in the budget to test new approaches to the G.C.S.E program to improve resit pass rates.

Stripp also suggested that by switching to a different G.C.S.E that works differently than the current two-tier system used for the Mathematics examination significant progress could be made in rewarding students and educators. This would help to remove the incentive in cheating the system.


In the 9-1 level mathematics G.C.S.E sat originally in 2017, students have a choice between either writing on foundation tier 1-5 materials or higher tier material covering grades 3-9. Both examinations have had a 3 paper structure to them.

Concerns have been raised, however, at the fact that the pass mark for one of the higher tier papers is only %18 rather than the %35 percent it was previously. For some pupils taking the G.C.S.E in November 2017 a mark of just 13% earned them a grade 4.

The Three-Paper Model


This has become a huge cause of worry for Stripp, who is concerned that less able students will be placed in the higher tier on the basis of the lowered grade points. He would rather have a three paper solution. The first paper where the students would deal with material up to grade 4. A second paper where pupils would deal with grades 4, 5 and 6 in detail. Finally, the third paper would cover the remaining three years thoroughly.

Those in the lower tier would take papers one and two, while those in the higher tier would take papers two and three. This means that those who get a grade 4 or 5 on paper two have done so on the same level since they’ve all done the same paper regardless of their tier. This gives those in the bottom tier a chance to show off their skills and gives a more enjoyable experience overall.

The advantage of this system, according to Stripp, is that it removes the incentive to game the system and would get rid of the low-grade boundaries that are helping to let unqualified students into the higher tier.

The Education department, in defence of the new examination, however, they stated that the attendance of outstanding schools has risen by nearly 1.9 million pupils due to the hard work of teachers since 2010.