WALES' GCSE REPORT: MUST DO BETTER! as Exam Results Slip Further Behind Schools in England, Education Minister

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), August 26, 2011 | Go to article overview

WALES' GCSE REPORT: MUST DO BETTER! as Exam Results Slip Further Behind Schools in England, Education Minister


THE gulf between the percentage of Welsh pupils obtaining five A*-C grades at GCSE compared to other parts of the UK has grown to its highest ever level.

Yesterday's results showed the percentage of pupils in Wales achieving the key benchmark slipped when compared to the average performance of young people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In 10 years, Welsh teenagers have gone from achieving an above average percentage of five A*-C grades to significantly below average. This was despite a modest overall improvement in GCSE grades in Wales and a slight narrowing of the gap with England and Northern Ireland in pupils achieving A* grades.

The percentage of pupils obtaining A* grades in Wales has risen to 6.6% from 6.1% in 2010, which was higher than the rate of improvement across the UK overall.

But while the number of students gaining A*-C grades has grown to 66.5%, the gap between Wales and the rest of the UK is now 3.3% - its highest ever level.

Education minister Leighton Andrews said a narrowing of the A* gap represented "progress" but conceded Wales must do better.

When asked about the gulf in A* to C grades, he told the Echo: "The pass rate for GCSE remains extremely high at 98.7% [for A*-G] and we have closed the gap at A* level.

"But there's always more that we can do and we know we've got to do more in terms of overall performance in Wales." In February, Mr Andrews unveiled a five-year plan designed to propel Wales' ailing education system into the world's top 20 following a series of damning reports.

"I think we've done a lot of pioneering of new initiatives in Wales but we have to have a real focus on our accountability agenda in the future," said Mr Andrews, who called for a more rounded view of exam results.

"We tend to only compare in certain things and we don't make comparisons based on other forms of study. There are a range of vocational qualifications, like the BTec and NVQ, which aren't considered and don't have a day when we can celebrate those results."

Mr Andrews was also quick to praise strides made in maths and the sciences, with hundreds more students sitting GCSE biology, chemistry and physics. …

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