From The Independent (not in Hansard yet):
[Mr Gove, speaking to Education Select Committee on 15 May) indicated he was]
planning to scrap the present grading system entirely and replace A* and A grade passes with a one, two, three or four pass. […]
He said it could well be the case that the “band of achievement that is currently A* and A” was replaced by a new one, two, three or four pass. The new-style GCSEs will start to be taught in schools in September 2015.
Graham Stuart, the Conservative chairman of the committee, also argued that Mr Gove could be “deliberately” paving the way for “grade deflation” in the exam system through the changes.
He said that the pass rate could also go down in the first year of pupils sitting the new exam (2017) – “because schools don’t know how to work the system”.
Students who previously were awarded an A grade pass could be awarded a four under the new system (a one or two would be roughly equivalent to an A* while three or four would equate to an A grade). Academics argue a four would not be seen by employers and universities as a top grade pass. Numbers are likely to replace grades throughout the system so instead of A* to G grade passes students would be awarded one to 10 passes.
However, Mr Gove replied that that the current exam system meant teachers were spending “too much time on exam technique and not enough on content”.