22/08/2013

GCSE Results Show Decline At The Top Grades

This year's GCSE results, published today by the Joint Council for Qualifications, show the number of GCSEs taken in 2013 increased by 4.2% compared with 2012 (5.2m to over 5.4m).

This significant rise can be attributed to the number of GCSEs taken by those aged 15 years and younger increasing 39.0% to 806,141.

The proportion of GCSEs awarded A* is down this year by 0.5 percentage points from 7.3% to 6.8%, while the proportion achieving A*-C is also down, 1.3 percentage points to 68.1%.

Across all subjects, girls continued to outperform boys at A* (8.3% compared to 5.3%) and at A*-C (72.3% compared to 63.7%).

English

The increase in entries from those younger or older than the target cohort of 16-year-olds can be seen in GCSE English. In 2013, there were more than 61,000 more entries compared with 2012 with 41.9% of this increase coming from 15-year-olds. Results for 16-year-olds remained relatively constant, especially at A*. The overall decline in top grades in English can, therefore, be explained by younger students not performing as strongly as 16-year-olds. While there has been an increase in IGCSE entries in English, this does not appear to have had an impact on outcomes.

Mathematics

The number of entries for Mathematics increased by 12.5% to 760,170, with the largest increase seen in the 15-year-old age group. There were significant early and repeated entries for Mathematics throughout the year, with an additional 565,833 entries outside of the Summer series. Results for 16-year-olds remained virtually unchanged at A*-C (up 0.1 percentage points to 62.1%) but declined slightly for 15-year-olds (down 0.3 percentage points to 51.7%). As with English, Mathematics shows 15-year-olds performing less well than 16-year-olds across the top grades.

Sciences

Entries for the separate sciences continued to climb, with Biology increasing 5.0%; Chemistry 4.4%; and Physics 2.1%. Boys have traditionally dominated entries for separate sciences, but this year's figures show girls are closing the gap. In Physics, entries by girls increased 6.5% compared with a 1.7% decrease for boys.

Commenting on this year's GCSE results Michael Turner, Director of the Joint Council for Qualifications, said: "Students have worked hard for these results and should be congratulated for their efforts and their achievements.

"There are many underlying factors affecting this year's GCSEs, including a sizeable increase in entry by 15 year olds, new science specifications designed with greater challenge, early and multiple entry in Mathematics and an increase in the number of students taking IGCSEs. All of these have had an impact on entries and results.

"This year's upturn in languages will be welcomed across the education sector and beyond. Not since 2008 have there been this many entries in languages. However, it remains to be seen if this is the start of a trend and if more students decide to continue to study a language at A level."

(CD/JP)

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