Today marks the day thousands of distance learning students, of all ages, receive their GCSE results from the National Extension College (NEC). This year, NEC enrolled around 2,000 students taking 16 (I)GCSEs, offering a complete exam booking service to these private candidates.

NEC Chief Executive Esther Chesterman congratulated all of the students on their efforts, noting: “NEC students come from all walks of life and have many reasons for choosing to study their GCSEs via online distance learning with NEC. I am very proud of all of them and their results show that access to vital qualifications like GCSEs are essential to all learners including those for whom mainstream education may not be an option. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to help our GCSE students along the path to achieving their ambitions.”

Across the nation, 5.5 million students took part in their GCSE exams this summer. This included young learners and adults, who entered their exams as private candidates, such as those who have been educated at home for a variety of reasons, adults seeking to gain qualifications to move on in their life or career, and individuals for whom home attending school or college is not an option, maybe through disability, ill-health or a full-time role as a carer.

Ofqual confirmed last Autumn that GCSE grades were likely to fall back to pre-pandemic levels in 2023. Nationally, grades have fallen, but not quite back to 2019 levels with 22.7% of GCSEs being graded 9-7 (21.9% in 2019), and 70.5% being graded 9-4 (69.9% in 2019).

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NEC student, on receiving their results, noted: “I am pleased to let you know that I got a Grade 6 in both my English Language and Maths GCSEs. These results are more than I could have hoped for.”

Despite the challenges faced by many NEC students, they have achieved exceptional GCSE results that Esther Chesterman notes “are as good as, or even better than, those of their peers in the conventional education system.”

Established in 1963 as a not-for-profit distance learning provider, the National Extension College (NEC) has a strong, proud heritage in widening access to education. Their aim is to transform lives and open up new possibilities for people of all ages by offering access to essential qualifications like GCSEs and A levels, as well as vocational qualifications in management, business and teaching.

Good passes at GCSE, especially in English and Maths, are essential qualifications. Pupils who do not achieve at least a Grade 4 in GCSE English and GCSE Maths are required to carry on studying them post-16. Resits can be undertaken alongside further studies and, for any student looking to improve on their grades, online distance learning gives them an option to fit their study flexibly around their life and family commitments.

For more information, visit https://nec.ac.uk/.