Bury owner Steve Dale says club has been sold as EFL considers deadline extension

All six of Bury’s scheduled fixtures this season have been suspended by the EFL

Bury are waiting to hear if a last-ditch offer to buy the League One club will save them from being expelled from the English Football League.

Owner Steve Dale told BBC Radio Manchester he had agreed a deal with analytics company C&N Sporting Risk, led by Henry Newman and Rory Campbell.

The EFL said it had been notified of an offer being accepted by Dale.

Bury had been given until 23:59 BST on Friday to prove their financial viability.

The EFL is now considering an extension to the deadline.

“We are currently in discussions with the potential purchaser and await information to allow the board to consider a request for an extension to Friday’s deadline,” said an EFL spokesperson.

Bury needed to show they could pay off creditors and had funding to complete the season, or risk expulsion from the EFL.

The EFL’s previous update, issued at 17:00 BST on Friday, said “limited progress” had been made by Dale in either providing the evidence they required or finding a new owner, but it would “keep working to find a resolution”.

‘Bury ought to have a viable long-term future’

In a statement given to PA Media, Newman and Campbell said: “We can confirm that over the past 10 weeks we have been in discussions with Bury FC, the EFL and others with a view to putting forward a proposal to buy the club.

“It is a very complicated scenario and there remain a number of outstanding legal and other issues that have to be addressed.

“Our background is in football and data analytics and it should therefore not be surprising that we are taking a very detailed forensic look at the realities of Bury FC’s finances.

“A club like Bury ought to have a viable long-term future even if the short-term future is clearly very challenging. To that end we have been in discussions with the EFL about an extension so that we can continue to explore the prospects for a purchase.”

The club is facing potential expulsion from the Football League

Dale told the BBC earlier on Friday that he had found a “prospective buyer” who was “waiting for the EFL to come back to him on a few points”.

He carried out numerous media interviews throughout the day and had earlier asked members of the public to pledge money to help “save a football club”.

‘A massive step forward’

EFL chief executive Debbie Jevans said earlier this week that a short extension to the deadline may be granted if a buyer could be found.

And Bury North MP James Frith, who had earlier claimed a bidder he had been liaising with was going to submit the relevant documentation to the EFL on Friday, said Dale’s announcement was a “massive step forward”.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “This is not over the line fully, there are a lot of questions to be answered about the complexity of the financial situation, but it is their (Newman and Campbell) bid that Dale is referencing.

“I don’t think the EFL have any reason now not to extend the deadline.

“It is a time to breathe a sigh of relief, but it’s not 100% due diligence watertight.”

The Shakers have had their first five league games of the season suspended by the EFL and they were also withdrawn from the Carabao Cup.

No club has been removed from the EFL since Maidstone were liquidated in 1992.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/49455433

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump speak ahead of G7 meeting

Composite image of Boris Johnson and Donald TrumpImage copyright Getty Images

Boris Johnson has spoken to US President Donald Trump ahead of meeting him on Sunday for the first time since becoming prime minister.

The leaders, who will meet at the G7 summit in France, discussed “foreign policy issues and global trade” in a phone call on Friday evening.

No 10 said they “looked forward to speaking further” at the summit.

Mr Trump has consistently praised Mr Johnson, and predicted a speedy US-UK trade deal after Brexit.

A UK government spokesman said: “Of course we want to move quickly, but we want to get the right deal that works for both sides.”

The PM will also meet European Council President Donald Tusk.

Mr Johnson has had a hectic week of diplomacy, visiting Paris and Berlin in an effort to persuade the EU to amend the withdrawal agreement it reached with his predecessor Theresa May.

The G7 summit in Biarritz – a get together of most of the leaders of the world’s largest economies – comes with just over two months until the Brexit deadline of 31 October.

Mr Johnson says the UK will leave the EU by then, whether or not the government reaches a deal to replace Mrs May’s deal – which was rejected by Parliament.

He wants to renegotiate the backstop – part of the agreement which aims to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit – but the EU has ruled this out.

Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the onus was on the UK to find a workable alternative plan.

Mr Johnson will meet Mr Trump for one-on-one talks on the sidelines of the summit on Sunday morning, and hold a separate meeting with Mr Tusk later.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Johnson met Mr Trump at the United Nations while UK foreign secretary

In July, Mr Trump said talks about a “very substantial” post-Brexit trade deal between his country and the UK were under way.

He also said he believed Mr Johnson would do “a great job” as prime minister, adding: “He’s a different kind of guy, but they say I’m a different kind of guy too.”

The president said Mr Johnson would “straighten” out Brexit negotiations.

In 2015, while Mayor of London, Mr Johnson accused Mr Trump of “stupefying ignorance” for calling parts of the city no-go areas.

But he later said the US president had “many, many good qualities”.

In July, after Mr Trump used Twitter to criticise then-Prime Minister Theresa May and her handling of Brexit, Mr Johnson said Mr Trump “could perhaps be more diplomatic” in his tweets.

The G7 summit runs from Saturday to Monday.

On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron – who is hosting the summit – and German Chancellor Ms Merkel said the ongoing fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest must be discussed among the G7 leaders this weekend.

On Friday, Mr Johnson said reaching a new deal with the EU would not be “a cinch”, but reported “new mood music” from French President Emmanuel Macron and German President Angela Merkel”.

Speaking during a visit to Devon, the prime minister said the government was “making progress”, but would “have to prepare to come out without an agreement”.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49452017

British Airways strike: BA pilots announce September dates

British Airways planeImage copyright Getty Images

British Airways pilots are to strike on 9, 10 and 27 September in a dispute over pay, the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has said.

The three-day strike – the first by BA pilots – could cause severe disruption, as Balpa represents about 90% of the airline’s pilots.

The union said strikes were a “last resort” born out of “enormous frustration” with airline management.

BA called it “unjustifiable” and said Balpa was “destroying” travel plans.

The union said BA rejected a “number of packages” that were proposed to resolve the pay dispute, and that there remains a gap of around £5m between the two sides’ positions.

The industrial action comes after 93% of Balpa’s members voted in favour of striking.

“Over recent years BA pilots have made sacrifice after sacrifice to assist the company such as taking a pay cut, productivity increases, closing the final salary pension scheme, giving up annual leave days, a new rostering system, and reducing flying pay,” Balpa said.

Pilots have rejected a pay increase worth 11.5% over three years, which the airline put forward in July.

BA’s chairman and CEO, Alex Cruz, said it was a “fair deal” and called the move by Balpa “disappointing”.

Cancelled flights

BA said it is making changes to its flight schedule, adding that it will “do everything [it] can to get as many people away on their journeys as possible”.

“However, it is likely that many of our customers will not be able to travel and we will be offering refunds and rebookings for passengers booked on cancelled flights,” it said.

Speaking to BBC News, Mr Cruz said it remains unclear how much disruption the strikes may cause.

“We are focused on minimising disruption to those who may be affected,” he said.

BA lost an appeal aimed at halting the strikes last month.

Its owner, International Airlines Group (IAG), had sought an injunction to prevent the strike in the High Court, but it was overturned.

It was then rejected by the Court of Appeal on 31 July.

IAG, which also owns Spanish carrier Iberia and Ireland’s Aer Lingus, reported a pre-tax profit of €3bn (£2.7bn) last year, up almost 9.8% on the previous year.

British Airways contributed £1.96bn to that, up 8.7% on 2017.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49451142

Thailand hotel fight: Briton Amitpal Singh Bajaj killed

Amitpal Singh Bajaj and Bandhna Kaur BajajImage copyright The Bajaj family
Image caption Amitpal Singh Bajaj and his wife Bandhna had been staying at the five-star Centara Grand Hotel

A British man died in a fight at a Thai hotel after telling another guest to keep the noise down as his wife and son tried to sleep, his family said.

Amitpal Singh Bajaj, 34, from London, complained about noise from the next room at the five-star Centara Grand Hotel in Phuket.

His family claims a man forced his way into their room via the balcony early on Wednesday and strangled Mr Bajaj.

His wife said her husband “sacrificed his life” to save her and their son.

The Foreign Office confirmed it was assisting a family in the area.

In a statement Mr Bajaj’s wife Bandhna Kaur Bajaj said: “My husband sacrificed his life to save my son’s life and mine. He will always be our hero.”

Mrs Bajaj, also 34, told how the attacker “barged” into their room naked and “just started charging at my husband”.

“My husband tried to block the man and move me and my son away. As the man was kicking, punching and just, beating him up, my husband told me to please leave and save our son,” she said.

‘Very scared’

Mrs Bajaj, from Southall, said she grabbed the couple’s two-year-old son Veer Singh and fled the hotel room to look for help.

She ran down a staircase and hid under a tree with her son in her arms while calling the reception from her mobile to tell them what had happened.

She said: “I asked the reception to please make sure someone attends to my husband – ‘please give him some medical help, I’m very scared, I’ve escaped’.

“I could still hear [the attacker] screaming. I didn’t want to be attacked.”

An ambulance and police then arrived at the hotel, in the Karon part of the city, and took Mr Amitpal to Patong Hospital where he was confirmed dead.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry confirmed that a Norwegian citizen has been arrested in Thailand and is being provided consular assistance.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-49449771

Jared O’Mara: Sheffield MP arrested in fraud probe

Jared O'MaraImage copyright House of Commons
Image caption Jared O’Mara has been an independent MP since resigning from Labour in 2018

MP Jared O’Mara has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, according to multiple sources.

The independent MP for Sheffield Hallam was arrested at the same time as his chief of staff Gareth Arnold, the BBC’s Next Episode Podcast found.

Electronic equipment was confiscated in the South Yorkshire Police inquiry, the BBC also understands.

Mr O’Mara did not respond to requests for comment while Mr Arnold said he had “no comment”.

Both have been released under investigation.

South Yorkshire Police would not confirm details of either man’s arrest.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority said it was a “matter for the police”.

Mr O’Mara said he was “taking time out for mental health treatment” in July and promised to resign at the end of summer recess after allegations of sexual misconduct towards staff.

Constituents have complained that case work has not been dealt with in the MP’s absence, allegations Mr Arnold denies.

Responding to the latest news, Sinead Parkinson, a member of the Hallam Constituents Facebook group, told the BBC: “We are pleased that an investigation is under way but we are still a constituency unrepresented and action needs to be taken to correct that.”

During its investigation, the BBC uncovered staff running the MP’s office without the proper security clearance required by Parliamentary authorities.

After the investigation was published, the constituency office was closed and staff formally given four weeks’ notice.

The Treasury confirmed Mr O’Mara had, in recent weeks, given formal notice of his intent to resign in September.

When the BBC has visited the constituency offices, on a number of occasions, they were found to be empty.

You can listen to The BBC’s Next Episode Podcast on BBC Sounds here.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-49451255

Acocks Green: Mother held after son, 10, ‘found dead in caravan’

The sceneImage copyright SNAPPERSK
Image caption Police were called at about 07:30 BST

A mother has been arrested on suspicion of child neglect after her 10-year-old son was found dead in a caravan in Birmingham, police said.

Emergency services were called to reports of a child unconscious at an address in Blossomville Way, Acocks Green, on Thursday morning.

He was taken to hospital where “nothing could be done to save him” and he was pronounced dead, police said.

His death is “unexplained” and a post-mortem examination is to take place.

West Midlands Police confirmed the arrested 44-year-old woman is the child’s mother.

Det Insp Joe Davenport said he understood the boy “had some underlying health issues and was admitted to hospital recently”.

“We’ve launched an inquiry to understand what happened in the days leading up to his death and to determine if any factors have contributed to his death,” he added.

Image copyright SNAPPERSK
Image caption The boy was found unconscious in Blossomville Way, Acocks Green

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was called to reports of a medical emergency at the address at 07:19 BST.

“On arrival we discovered one patient, a boy, who was in a critical condition,” he said.

“He received specialist trauma care at the scene before being transported to Heartlands Hospital.

“Sadly, it later became apparent at hospital that nothing could be done to save him and he was confirmed deceased.”

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-49438147

Man cleared over burning Grenfell effigy model film

Grenfell effigy
Image caption The model was burned at a bonfire party in south London on 3 November 2018

A man who filmed a cardboard effigy of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire has been cleared of posting “grossly offensive” material.

Prosecutors claimed footage recorded by Paul Bussetti at a London party was racist but the 47-year-old said it was a “joke” only shared between friends.

He was found not guilty after it was revealed a second video from the party had also been shared on WhatsApp.

Magistrates said they could not be sure the film was that taken by Mr Bussetti.

The prosecution’s handling of evidence in the case was described as “appalling” by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot.

The clip of the cardboard building, which had “Grenfell Tower” written on it, was recorded at a party attended by about 30 people in south London on 3 November, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

It was later uploaded to YouTube and sparked outrage, with a relative of one of the 72 people who died in the blaze on 14 June 2017 calling it “revolting”.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Paul Bussetti told the court he was not a racist

Mr Bussetti, of South Norwood, was accused of sending “grossly offensive” material via a public communications network.

He told magistrates the effigy had been created by his friend and the characters featured on the model were meant to represent “the majority of people that were at the party”, not people who died in the disaster.

One black-clad figure, who was referred to as “ninja”, was meant to represent his friend’s son who did martial arts, while his own image had been on the other side of the box, Mr Bussetti said.

The father-of-two said he shared the footage with about 20 people on two WhatsApp groups but he had never intended it to go further.

When prosecutor Philip Scott suggested he sent the footage because it was in keeping with other “highly racist” content he shared, Mr Bussetti replied that it was “just banter” and denied being racist.

‘Colossal bad taste’

Just before Ms Arbuthnot left court to consider her verdict at the end of the two-day trial, defence barrister Mark Summers QC revealed he had just been made aware of evidence that a second video was recorded.

He argued it meant there was “absolutely no way” to know which piece of footage had made its way onto YouTube and gone viral.

Clearing Mr Bussetti, Ms Arbuthnot said she could not be sure the video used in the case was taken by him.

She also said while it was “in colossal bad taste”, she could not be certain the figures on the tower were not Mr Bussetti and his friends.

The chief magistrate added she was “appalled at the disclosure in this case” with the last-minute evidence helping to avoid “a potential miscarriage of justice”.

A second charge of causing footage of a “menacing character” to be uploaded on YouTube against Mr Bussetti had earlier been dismissed.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-49435117

Brexit: Backstop indispensable, Macron tells Johnson

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Media captionBoris Johnson insists that with “energy and creativity” a Brexit deal can be struck

Boris Johnson has met Emmanuel Macron in Paris for Brexit talks, with the French president saying the UK’s vote to quit the EU must be respected.

But he added that the Ireland-Northern Ireland backstop plan was “indispensable” to preserving political stability and the single market.

The backstop, opposed by Mr Johnson, aims to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

Mr Johnson said that with “energy and creativity we can find a way forward”.

On Wednesday German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the onus was on the UK to find a workable plan.

UK Prime Minister Mr Johnson insists the backstop must be ditched if a no-deal exit from the EU on 31 October is to be avoided.

He argues that it could leave the UK tied to the EU indefinitely, contrary to the result of the 2016 referendum, in which 52% of voters opted to leave.

But the EU has repeatedly said the withdrawal deal negotiated by former PM Theresa May, which includes the backstop, cannot be renegotiated.

However, it has previously said it would be willing to “improve” the political declaration – the document that sets out the UK’s future relationship with the EU.


What lies behind the friendly welcome?

The handshake between the PM and the president was warm and long-lasting. But it was the words that mattered.

President Macron said that, while he had been portrayed as the “hard boy” of the EU, he was simply being clear about where he stood.

He described the backstop both as an “indispensable guarantee” of “stability in Ireland” and the means of protecting the integrity of the European single market.

But the expectation that he’d refuse point-blank to renegotiate the Brexit deal didn’t materialise.

Instead, he simply warned that any withdrawal agreement that the two sides might reach in the next month wouldn’t be very different from the existing one. And he asked for more “visibility” from the UK on its alternative proposals.

It would seem that both Mr Macron and Angela Merkel are determined not to shut the door entirely in Boris Johnson’s face, and perhaps equally determined not to be blamed for no deal.


Speaking after he greeted Mr Johnson at Paris’s Elysee Palace, Mr Macron said he was “very confident” that the UK and EU would be able to find a solution within 30 days – a timetable suggested by Mrs Merkel – “if there is a good will on both sides”.

He said it would not be possible to find a new withdrawal agreement “very different from the existing one” within that time, but added that an answer could be reached “without reshuffling” the current deal.

Mr Macron also denied that he was the “hard boy in the band”, following suggestions that he would be tougher on the UK than his German counterpart.

Standing beside Mr Macron, Mr Johnson said he had been “powerfully encouraged” by his conversations with Mrs Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday.

He emphasised his desire for a deal with the EU but added that it was “vital for trust in politics” that the UK left the EU on 31 October.

He also said that “under no circumstances” would the UK put checks or controls on the Ireland-UK border.

The two leaders ate lunch, drank coffee and walked through the Elysee gardens together during their talks, which lasted just under two hours. Mr Johnson then left to fly back to the UK.

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn: French president “quite right” to say Irish backstop indispensable

If implemented, the backstop would see Northern Ireland staying aligned to some rules of the EU single market, should the UK and the EU not agree a trade deal after Brexit.

It would also see the UK stay in a single customs territory with the EU, and align with current and future EU rules on competition and state aid.

These arrangements would apply until both the EU and UK agreed they were no longer necessary.

Mrs Merkel has argued that the withdrawal agreement does not need to be reopened if a practical solution to the backstop crisis can be found.

Brexit is due to happen on 31 October, with no deal being the default option. The prime minister has said he wants to leave the EU with a deal, but that the UK would be ready if none is reached.

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Your guide to Brexit jargon

Mr Johnson will attend the G7 summit on Saturday in Biarritz, France, alongside other leaders including US President Donald Trump.

Asked about Mr Macron’s comments, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he agreed there should not be a hard border on the island of Ireland.

He described the Irish peace process as “an enormous step forward” which “cannot be negotiated away by Boris Johnson”.

Image copyright EPA
Image copyright Reuters

Mr Corbyn has cancelled a trip to Ghana, urging MPs to meet him next week to discuss ways to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

He has proposed that MPs should help him defeat the government in a no-confidence motion and install him as a caretaker prime minister.

If he wins the vote, he plans to delay Brexit, call a snap election and campaign for another referendum.

The Liberal Democrats, SNP, Change UK, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party have agreed to the meeting with Mr Corbyn. But Conservative MP Dame Caroline Spelman and independent MP Nick Boles have said they will not attend.

Mr Boles, who quit the Conservatives in April over the party’s approach to Brexit, said the Labour leader should prioritise a change in the law to delay leaving the EU ahead of a no-confidence vote.

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Media captionConfused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49427007

Migration: UK cannot end freedom of movement on Brexit day, experts say

Passport checks at the UK border in Gatwick AirportImage copyright Getty Images

Migration experts say the UK cannot end freedom of movement from the EU on Brexit day because it has no system to work out who is legally in the country.

The Home Office said on 19 August that EU freedom of movement would end immediately in a no-deal Brexit.

But Oxford University’s Migration Observatory said employers will have no way to tell whether EU nationals have arrived after 31 October.

It comes as official figures show EU immigration at its lowest since 2013.

Under the existing system, EU nationals do not have to register their presence in the UK so the Home Office does not have records of when they arrived.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory, said: “Even if the government knew exactly what it wanted the post-Brexit immigration system to look like, it wouldn’t be possible to implement it immediately after a no-deal Brexit.

“That’s because any new restrictions on EU migration can’t be enforced unless UK employers know which EU citizens have been here for years and which ones arrived post-Brexit and have to comply with the new immigration regime.”

The government’s only way to assess which EU citizens had a right to be in the UK would be through the settlement scheme, which closes in December 2020, the Migration Observatory team said.

The settlement scheme aims to register EU nationals in the country, but there is no obligation for all of them to take part.

As of July, only a third of the estimated 3.3 million UK-based EU citizens had applied, leaving more than two million unregistered.

The announcement that freedom of movement would end the day after Brexit “added to the growing uncertainty and unease” for businesses, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said.

Tom Hadley, the confederation’s policy and campaigns director, said: “It is hard to believe that government continues to leave businesses and EU citizens in the dark, with such little clarity on the biggest questions with just 10 weeks to go.”

A Home Office spokesman said it would set out details of changes to EU migration after Brexit “shortly” but encouraged EU citizens to apply to the settlement scheme.

“Free movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October when we leave the EU,” he said.

The warning on freedom of movement comes after the Office for National Statistics conceded that its key migration figures were no longer reliable and should now only be regarded as “experimental”.

What are the problems with the migration figures?

The ONS revealed on Wednesday that it had been underestimating EU arrivals and overestimating those from the rest of the world.

It now believes EU net migration – the difference between people arriving and leaving – was 16% higher (29,000) in 2015-16 than previously thought.

Net migration from outside the EU was 13% (25,000) lower, because more foreign students left than previously estimated.

The ONS has used additional data from the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions in an attempt to make the adjusted figures more reliable.

But statisticians have not yet adjusted the figures for EU immigration after 2016.

That is partly because EU citizens interviewed for the survey may not be sure if they are staying in Britain for at least 12 months – the cut-off point for inclusion in the data.

What do the latest migration figures say?

The ONS estimates that EU migration is now at its lowest level since 2013, with 200,000 EU citizens arriving in the year up to March 2019 – the original date for Brexit.

It says the main reason for the decline is that fewer people are arriving from the EU to work, with the numbers more than halving to 92,000 from their peak in 2016.

Ms Sumption at the Migration Observatory said: “The drop in the value of sterling has made working in the UK less lucrative than it once was, and continued uncertainty about the Brexit may also have played a role.”

More Central and Eastern Europeans are leaving than are arriving – causing a net fall in the numbers from eight countries, including Poland, of 7,000. That confirms a trend that began a year ago.

But the overall net migration total to the UK was 226,000 – which includes arrivals from all over the world and returning British citizens. That is more than 100,000 lower than the record figure in the year before the referendum.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49433027

GCSE results: Pass rates and top grades edge upwards

There has been a slight increase in the GCSE pass rate and the percentage of top grades this year, despite concerns about the difficulty of exams.

Image copyright PA Media

The pass rate edged up to 67.3% in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – up 0.4 percentage points on last year.

The percentage of papers given a top grade (7 or A and above) rose 0.3 percentage points to 20.8% on 2018.

The rise comes as head teachers in England warned toughened GCSEs were demoralising some candidates.

More than 700,000 teenagers are receiving their GCSE results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, after a string of reforms to the exams system.

Exam boards and exam regulators make efforts to hold standards steady so as not to disadvantage pupil sitting new exams.

A new numerical grading system and tougher exams have been introduced in England, while elsewhere many GCSEs are still graded A* to G.

In England, 837 candidates got a clean sweep of 9s – the very top grade – in all their subjects.

However, head teachers have warned that some lower-attaining pupils have been so disillusioned they refused to sit the exams or even their mocks.

Why pass rates never change much

England’s exams regulator Ofqual and the exams board insist they are keeping standards the same over time through a system of comparable outcomes.

Exam boards do this by making adjustments to grade boundaries during the marking process, having married the difficulty of papers with the predicted ability of the group of students sitting the exams.

This means the percentages achieving different grades nationally never changes very much from year to year.

But where exams are perceived harder, the grade boundaries may be lowered. For example, on Pearson/Edexcel’s higher maths paper, the pass mark – (a 4 in England) – was just 22%.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the comparable outcomes system ensured that candidates were not treated unfairly by the raising of standards.

But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the heads’ union ASCL, said while the increased rigour may have been in the interest of the more able students, it had come at the expense of the more vulnerable ones.

He called for the exams to be tweaked to make them “less of an ordeal” and said a more “humane way” to assess the abilities of young people was required.

How hard are the GCSEs?

An illustration of how tough some of these exams were is shown by where grade boundaries were set for Pearson/Edexcel’s science papers.

In the chemistry paper, a pass was awarded at 22.5% while those getting a grade 9 could afford to get 20% of the paper wrong – as the very top grade was awarded at 80%.

In physics, the pass mark was 26.5% – and to get a 7 (formerly an A), 62% was required. Grade 9 candidates needed to get 77% of the paper correct.

While in French, for the same exam board, a pass was a score of 30% and a grade 9 was 81%.

Image copyright PA Media

The National Education Union warned of the impact these tougher exams were having on student mental health and wellbeing, adding that many young people were left feeling “disillusioned, disengaged and stressed”.

And the National Association of Head Teachers said there was a risk the “general” element of the GCSE was being lost, which was a “disservice to all concerned”.

Other key facts

There were an estimated 5.2 million GCSE entries – up 50,000 on 2018, a 1.4% rise, reflecting a 1.5% rise in the 16 year-old population.

But entries in some subjects, notably those included in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) group now used as a school performance measure, are rising at a faster rate:

  • English: 4.4%
  • maths: 4.2%
  • double science: 4.8%
  • history: 7.1%
  • geography: 3.4%
  • modern languages: 3%
  • computer science: 7.2%

Art and design also saw an increase, of 9.5%, as other equivalent arts subjects declined.

The results also show:

  • Boys continue to do better than girls in maths
  • Boys continue to do better than girls in physics and chemistry but by less than in 2018
  • Girls continue to do better than boys in biology but by less than in 2018.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-49421275