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GSCE results – grades down again

There has been a drop in GCSE grades for the second year in a row, figures show. 

The proportion of GSCEs graded A*-C was 68.1%, down from 69.4% last year. The number of grade A* or As awarded was also down from 22.4% last year to 21.3% and the overall pass rate fell slightly. 

More people are sitting exams early, which the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) said could account for the drop in results. A new league table measure, the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), was introduced in autumn 2010. This rates schools on how many pupils got GSCEs in individual subjects, and showed an increase in humanities subjects as well as foreign languages.

Education minister Elizabeth Truss said: “It is very pleasing to see the increase in these important subjects – the ones that will keep pupils' options open in the future. I am particularly delighted to see a languages revival – with an increase in the number of entries to French, German and Spanish GCSEs after years of decline. 

“The EBacc is the platform for young people to go on to A-Levels and high-quality vocational study. It will help them compete with their peers in the world's best education jurisdictions, where they are expected to study a rigorous academic core.” 

Michael Turner, director of the JCQ, said: “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 [international GCSEs]. All of these have had an impact on results.” 

Graham Stuart, chairman of the Commons education committee said: “Any changes to examinations tends to create great volatility which means that schools have less predictable results than they have had in previous years.” 

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