12th August 2021

Education Policy Institute comments on GCSE results 2021

Today, over half a million pupils have received their GCSE results, which for the second year running, are comprised of grades formed by teacher assessments.

EPI has published analysis of today’s national 2021 GCSE results, examining the latest trends in attainment and entries among students.

Our GCSE results analysis can be accessed here.


Commenting on today’s results, Jon Andrews, Head of Analysis at the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said:

“Students have had an incredibly difficult school year, working towards their GCSEs during a global pandemic – we must congratulate them for their achievements today. Schools and colleges should also be commended for the remarkable work they’ve done to deliver today’s grades under very challenging circumstances.

“Higher GCSE grades were to be expected given the approach to assessment and the lack of a rigorous plan from the government to address inconsistencies in awarding grades.

““It’s important that we don’t let today’s grade changes distract us from the huge learning losses that students have faced. There is a risk that higher grades awarded to young people conceal the underlying losses that they have experienced from the pandemic.

“We know that some pupils had suffered significant learning losses by the spring lockdown, with disadvantaged students most affected. These losses must not be allowed to hold students back as they make the important transition to the next stage of education.

“Our research has shown that a three-year education recovery package totalling £13.5bn will be required to reverse the damage done to pupils’ learning from the pandemic, but the government’s package amounts to less than a quarter of this. We must see far more ambitious plans so that we can give young people the best chance of progressing after such a prolonged period of disruption.


Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), commented: 

“After today’s results, it’s now imperative that we see a credible plan from the government to support next year’s students through their exams, and make sure that future year groups are not penalised by this year’s rises in grades.

“The government and regulator Ofqual need to ensure a return to a distribution of grades that is much closer to what we saw in 2019, but it must do so in a way that does not harm future year groups, who themselves have seen their education heavily disrupted by the pandemic.”