This year’s GCSE results have shown the biggest ever year-on-year decline — down to the lowest level since 2008.
Pupils celebrate after receiving their GCSE results at Brighton College in Brighton, East Sussex. Photo credit: PA
The overall proportion of entries achieving A* to C has declined from 69 per cent to 66.9 per cent. Top A* grades have slipped from 6.6 per cent to 6.5 per cent.
This has been blamed on more pupils in England being required to resit English and maths.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said 17-year-olds who had successfully retaken these GCSEs now had “better prospects.”
He added: “We want to make our country a place where there is no limit on anyone’s ambition or what they can achieve – that’s why we are working to ensure there are even more high-quality schools in every part of the country.
“And I am pleased to see that there are more GCSEs being taken in the core academic subjects, those that give students a wider range of opportunities.
“For those 17-year-olds who have struggled to achieve good grades in maths, we are seeing 4,000 more successful retakes of those exams, delivering better prospects for every one of those young people.”
The results of more than five million GCSE entries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been published.
The number of students achieving passes at GCSE has fallen dramatically this year, despite a record number of pupils retaking their exams in the hope of achieving a grade C.
Jill Stokoe, education policy advisor at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “Well done to the students on the hard work they put into achieving their GCSE results this year helping them to continue to study for A-levels or to go into vocational training.
“However, the Government must acknowledge that their policy to force 17-year-olds to re-take English and Maths until they obtain a pass grade is not in the best interests of students, and is clearly not working because fewer students are passing their re-sits now that they are compulsory. And this policy is clearly having an impact on the overall results for English and maths GCSEs, as this year nearly 40 per cent of students didn’t achieve A*-C.
“We suspect that the fall in A*-C grades reflects the impact of the Government’s ill-thought-out policy to push all students to do the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects. T
“This is making many students study subjects in which they do not excel, rather than subjects in which they would do well and could provide good career opportunities. It also means that students cannot focus on improving their English and maths skills.
“The Government’s plans to make 90 per cent of students study EBacc subjects ignores the fact that there is already a shortage of teachers for most of the EBacc subjects – English, maths, physics, history, geography and modern foreign languages (MFL).
“We are concerned that the number of students studying MFL has continued to decline. This will have a knock-on impact on the number of staff qualified to teach these subjects in the future.”
The fall in attainment levels are said to be partly due to changes to the education system seen this year.
Students are no longer allowed to leave school before the age of 18, and must achieve at least a grade C in English and maths, leading to a significant rise in the number of 17-year-olds entering for resits this year