GCSE attainment in English and Maths, by population sub-groups

GCSE attainment by ethnicity (2020)

GCSE attainment is higher in London than in the rest of England. This was true for both boys and girls, students who do not speak English as a first language, students with Special Educational Needs, and students from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Attainment increased from 2020 to 2019 both in London and the rest of England across almost all groups. The only exception were Asian students, whose grades fell between 2020 and 2019. The largest relative rise in attainment was recorded for students with special education needs.

The increase in grades from 2019 to 2020 far surpasses year-on-year increases observed historically, so it is unlikely to be wholly accounted for by regular grade inflation. Attainment in maths, for instance, fell between 2017 and 2019 in London, while attainment in English remained broadly similar. The sharp increase in attainment between 2020 and 2019 coincides with big disruptions to the education system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 GCSE exams were cancelled; instead, students obtained teacher-produced grades, which very likely contributed to the grade inflation in a substantial way.Therefore, higher attainment scores must not necessarily reflect improved performance.

In both London and the rest of England, girls perform better at GCSE than boys, with 78% of girls achieving grades 9-4 (the equivalent of A*-C under the old system) in English and Maths in London, but only 72% of boys. 

In London, students with English as a second language perform similarly to those who speak English as a first language, whilst in England those with English as their first language perform slightly better than those for whom English is the second language.

Students with Special Educational Needs have much lower attainment than the average student and the attainment gap is roughly the same in London and the rest of England. 

In London, Asian students have the highest attainment. Their average pass rate in English and Maths is 8 percentage points higher than that of all students.

GCSE attainment by first language status (2020)

GCSE attainment by special educational needs status (2020)

GCSE attainment by gender (2020)