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GCSE pupils in Wales close the results gap with UK

By Arwyn Jones
BBC Wales education correspondent

image copyrightThinkstock
image captionThere was a row over 'unexpectedly low grades' for English exams sat early

Pupils studying GCSEs in Wales have closed the gap with other parts of the UK.

Results released to GCSE pupils on Thursday showed there had been an increase in the percentage of students receiving A* to C grades.

There was a rise in the proportion of those getting top grades but the overall pass rate fell slightly.

There was also a drop in the top grades for English following the introduction of an exam unique to Wales.

  • In 2013, 19.2% of pupils in Wales received either an A* or an A
  • That went up by 0.2% in 2014
  • There was also an increase of nearly 1% in those getting A*- C
  • It means the gap between Wales and the rest of the UK has closed by 0.2%

The English exam was first sat in January but more than 100 schools complained after pupils got lower than expected grades leading to worries that the final mark on Thursday in the subject would be affected.

In other subjects, the number of pupils receiving good grades in maths, French, German and Spanish have all fallen.

However, results in chemistry, physics and biology improved.

Earlier on Thursday, teachers' unions had raised concern raised by unions about high levels of anxiety levels among members over the GCSE results.

Robin Hughes, from the ASCL union, said: "The system that delivers GCSE results to our young people in Wales is on trial.

"Heads and teachers are more anxious than usual about the GCSE results this year. And with good reason.

"GCSEs are important to our young people but they are also important to our idea of how well our schools are doing."

Mr Hughes said it was fair for schools to be held accountable on performance, including GCSEs results.

"When the schools are asked to deliver more and better GCSEs from year to year, and when we expect our young people to try as hard as they can to do well, can it be fair that the system that delivers the results seems to measure itself by how much harder it is for everyone else to do their job?" he added.

English exam

Earlier this year, teachers and parents had reacted angrily to what they claimed were "unexpectedly low grades" for English exams taken in January.

The Welsh government said there had been concerns about those results but that it still expected the full results to compare with those last year "unless there were compelling reasons" otherwise.

The education minister had admitted "marking was severe" but said there was no need for them to be re-marked.

The WJEC exam board, which initially ordered a re-marking of a few English GCSE papers in January, added: "We are confident that our marking and awarding has been in line with regulatory requirements."

Related Topics

  • GCSEs
  • Wales education

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