25/08/2011

'Record-breaking Results' For GCSE Students

Around 750,000 students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland received their GCSE results today in another year of record-breaking results.

The number of top grades awarded to students has risen every year since the exams were first introduced in 1988 and it was revealed that just under 70% of results were awarded a grade between A* and C.

The gap between girls and boys has also continued to widen, with 19.6% of boys achieving A* or A grades, compared to 26.5% of girls.

However, there have been fears that the introduction of the English Baccalaureate last year will "demotivate" students who struggle with more academic subjects.

In order to gain the EBacc, pupils have to gain at least a C grade at GCSE English, maths, two science qualifications, a foreign language and either history or geography.

It is not compulsory, but it is feared that schools may try to push pupils towards taking the more traditional qualifications.

Dr Mary Bousted, from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "There will be some great results, I have no doubt, but, if the government has its way, this year's 16-year-olds will be the last to have had a real choice of subjects and qualifications.

"Michael Gove's English Baccalaureate is likely to restrict the range of subjects taught to GSCE.

"This risks demotivating and alienating the thousands of young people who struggle with academic subjects and would be better suited to taking a wider variety of subjects to give them the skills for a range of careers. Both acadmeic and vocational study are important, and the government's desire to see a two-tier hierarchy of qualifications is not just unhelpful, but unfair.

"We hope that those pupils, whose schools felt pressured into changing their GSCE subjects midway to meet the English Baccalaureate, do not suffer as a result. In future we hope that schools resist pressure to push pupils into studying subjects just because they are favoured by whoever is Minister for Education, and concentrate on what's in the best interests of all their pupils."

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: "The EBacc is not compulsory and is only one measure of success - pupils should study what is right for them. It makes up just five subjects, three of which are compulsory anyway. There is plenty of time left for pupils to study other subjects. However, these are the subjects which form part of an important core of academic study for those wanting to go on to further learning and will therefore actually make young people more employable."

(KMcA/BMcC)

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