GCSE Pass Rate Rises Again

83% of local students get top grades

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The GCSE pass rate has risen again this year with 83 percent of students in Hammersmith and Fulham achieving A* to C grades - up 10 percent from last year. Over 65 percent of students achieved five or more of the top grades.

At Phoenix High School the figures were even higher with 93 percent of pupils gaining five A* to C grades, up from 76 percent last year.

Head teacher Sir William Atkinson said: “We have done extremely well and improved on our previous best. This reflects the hard work of the students and the support they receive from their teachers.”

At Burlington Danes Academy in Wood Lane, 50% of students gained at least 5 A*-C grades, including English and Maths. The school says this marks an improvement of 9% on last year’s figure.

Principal Sally Coates said: “These results mark another step in our journey towards gaining outstanding school status. I am immensely proud of our students and staff who have worked so hard together. These results bode well for our new Sixth Form, opening next week, which means that we can continue to work with this group of students and prepare them for university.  I am also delighted with the performance of students who took their GCSEs early, such as a class of 29 students in Year 10, all of whom gained an A or A* grade in their Maths GCSE.”

The local figures are well above the national ones: the overall A*-C rate now stands at 67.1 percent, an increase of 1.4 percentage points on 2008 and 12.5 percentage points on 1997.

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) says nationally, performance in Maths and Science was up by 0.9 percent while performance in English was down 0.2 percent. An increased number of students had chosen to take separate science subjects but those opting to study modern foreign languages saw a steep decline with French down by 13,252 or 6.6 percent (from 201,940 in 2008 to 188,688) and German, down by 3,226 or 4.2 percent (from 76,695 in 2008 to 73,469). Entries in Spanish were stable, only down by 22 (from 67,092 in 2008 to 67,070), the JCQ says. Language study will be compulsory in primary schools from 2011.

The proportion of girls getting an A or A* for all subjects was 24.4 percent, compared with 18.7 percent of boys - but boys got more top grades than girls in Maths for the first time in 12 years.

Following criticism that school exams have become too easy – and some calls for GCSEs to be scrapped altogether - Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "I thoroughly condemn attempts, whether from parts of the press or political parties, that seek to undermine for their own purposes the credibility of GCSEs. Young people have done their best and the improvements we have seen in recent years are entirely due to their efforts and the hard work of teachers.

"There are of course major issues that still need to be tackled including the ongoing effects of the mistaken decision by Government, supported by the Conservative Party, to make Modern Foreign Languages optional. The reduction in take-up of Modern Foreign Languages, particularly in French and German, is of fundamental concern.

“Very many young people may well regret in future that they should have taken a foreign language but didn’t do so because this subject area is now optional. This is precisely the opposite of what should happen in a world where national boundaries are less and less important. It is absurd that primary schools with the enormous range of expectations that rest on their shoulders should carry a disproportionate responsibility for ensuring learning in Modern Foreign Languages.

"There are of course also issues about the performance of girls relative to that of boys, which requires further investigation.

"Nevertheless the overall picture is one of success and that is precisely what everyone should celebrate alongside pupils, parents and teachers."

The Department for Children, Schools and Families says that from this September, schools will be teaching new GCSEs in the majority of subjects, which have been revised to keep them up-to-date and challenging. The changes will include replacing coursework with a new form of controlled assessment. New GCSEs in English, maths and ICT incorporating functional skills will be introduced from September 2010.

28 August 2009