HARDER GCSEs have been a challenge to prepare students for, according to a headteacher of one of Brighton’s largest schools.

Kate Williams, from Longhill High School, said the Government’s reforms to make exams more rigorous is also a challenge for teachers.

Year 11s this summer took new and more demanding GCSEs in maths and English, and are set to be awarded new style numerical grades.

The changes are set to be rolled to the other subjects by 2020.

Ms Williams said: “The GCSE changes have been a challenge, but the teachers have worked hard and have risen to it, and the pupils have followed suit.

“They understand the changes and we have supported them through that, and they have been up for the task given to them.

“I support the GCSEs becoming more rigorous, and I think it helps our young people compete in a global market.

“Our world is changing and we need to adapt as well, the more we can can prepare them to compete the better.”

The Government has said it has revised GCSE qualifications in England to match high-performing education systems elsewhere in the world.

The changes are part of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), of which maths and English exams were the first to be introduced.

Subjects will also now be graded nine to one in the new exams - with nine being the highest grade.

This replaces the traditional A* to G.

Ms Williams said her school had been working with others across the city and changing the way they teach to prepare students for the new exams.

Longhill’s Year 11 students, who sat the new exams in May, said they found them much harder.

Youstina Hanna, 16, said: “I found maths particularly challenging this year because they put A Level questions in the paper.

“So I struggled and I stressed more than I usually do.”

The GCSE reforms have also made it harder for school bosses and Brighton and Hove City Council to measure performance, as there is no benchmark to compare this year’s results to.

This will be the case until 2020 when the GCSE reforms are completed.

Until then they’ll be comparing themselves to schools nationally and across the city to gauge their performance.

The city council’s head of educational standards Mark Storey said: “It is pressing the reset button this year.

“However we have various measure to help us understand how schools are doing.

“So whatever the system is we will be able to see the progress schools have made.”