GCSEs: Wales' pupils results fall

The number of GCSE entries graded A*-C in Wales has fallen for the first time for more than a decade.

The gap has widened between Wales and other parts of the UK.

The number of entries earning grade A*-C in Wales was 65.4%, compared with an average of 69.4% across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, Wales closed the gap with other UK areas at the highest GCSE grades of A* and A, from 3.7% in 2011 to 3.2% in 2012.

Overall the headline results showed:

  • The overall pass rate stays at 98.7%.
  • 9,940 pupils completed their Welsh Baccalaureate programme, up 66%.
  • 6.5% of results were A* in Wales, down 0.1% on last year.
  • Girls continued to out-perform boys but the gap narrowed slightly this year at A* and A*-A whilst widening slightly at A*-C.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews was at Cynffig Comprehensive School in Kenfig Hill, near Bridgend, as results were handed out.

"Students across Wales, like those in Cynffig who I am visiting today, deserve our congratulations as they take this significant step on their learning journey," he said.

"Our students' performance in GCSEs shows the overall pass rate remains at 98.7%, with passes at A*-C at 65.4% which is encouraging."

Teaching union ATL Cymru said the results were a mixed bag and no quick judgments should be made.

Dr Philip Dixon, the union's director, urged caution and patience in interpreting the results.

"Obviously some of these results will be of concern to the profession - and to the Welsh government... but rash judgments and quick political point scoring will not help," he said.

"It is, frankly, puzzling that after relentless concentration on numeracy and literacy this has not shown up in these results."

Mr Andrews has said tackling problems with literacy and numeracy were two of his priorities.

A survey from the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales meanwhile warned school leavers were lacking in basic skills.

Furthermore, secondary schools in Wales are now ranked in bands, which the Welsh government says is to highlight those schools which require extra support.

Schools are judged on 12 categories, which include GCSE performance and pupil attendance levels. They are rewarded if they make progress in those areas.

The number of pupils eligible for free school meals is also taken into account.

Schools will be banded again in December so this year's GCSE results will matter. Small differences can make significant banding changes.

More on this story