Pupils achieve record GCSE results

By Liz Stephens and Alex Stevenson

The number of GCSEs with grades A*-C has hit the two-thirds mark, in a record set of results across the country.

However, independent schools achieved significantly more of the top grades than comprehensives and their results also showed the most improved, again widening the gap between the sectors.

Independent schools were, however, outperformed by students in grammar schools, where 55 per cent of GCSEs scored an A or A*.

Only 1.4 per cent of students failed GCSEs this year as the A-G pass rate jumped ever closer to 100 per cent – which has only exacerbated the now traditional accusations that the exams are “dumbing down”.

However, contrary to earlier concerns voiced by the Conservatives the results show a return to traditional subjects and, in particular, a significant increase in science entries, with physics entries up 21 per cent.

Science subjects also gained the highest overall results with all three sciences achieving a 90 per cent pass rate at A*-C.

Schools minister Vernon Coaker said: “I’m really pleased to see that this year’s GCSE results show sustained progress in standards at GCSE.

“Good results are the product of students’ hard work and excellent teaching in the system. I congratulate young people for their achievements today, and we should all take pride in their success.”

However, Liberal Democrat schools spokesman David Laws said: “Today’s statistics also highlight the twin crisis in education – too many pupils failing to get good results and a lack of confidence in standards.

“It is a shocking indictment of the Government that around half of all pupils cannot get five good GCSEs including English and maths after over a decade of formal education.

“In the poorest areas, up to 70 per cent of children fail to achieve this standard. These children are the ones who will now struggle to find jobs, and risk ending up as long term unemployed.”

Results jumped 1.4 per cent on 2008’s figures and saw the overall A*-C figure reach 67.1 per cent.

This is 12.5 per cent up on the 1997 level.