A-level results will show girls extending exam lead over boys

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Girls are expected to consolidate their lead over boys in today's A-level results and next week's GCSE results.

Girls are expected to consolidate their lead over boys in today's A-level results and next week's GCSE results.

For the first time, examining boards will offer an instant break down of results to reveal the success rate of boys and girls at both levels.

Yesterday, exam officials released figures to show that 10 years ago, 32 per cent of girls achieved A-C grades in GCSE maths compared with 36 per cent of boys. Last year, 46 per cent of girls notched up A*-C grades compared with 44 per cent of boys. In English, girls last year led by a massive 61 to 45 per cent. A-level results for around 250,000 students are also expected to show that girls are getting a slightly higher overall score than boys. However, the gender gap is expected to vary in different subjects.

This year, 20,000 pupils in GCSE English are taking part in a pilot in which their names will be kept from markers. Dennis Opposs, principal manager in quality audit at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said there was no evidence of bias either because of gender or race. "But in the context of, for example, the Macpherson report [into the death of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence], there is a move to make sure that there is no possibility of bias within the system."

Northern Ireland has had anonymous marking for many years. "We hope to move to that position here but it is more difficult in a bigger system," Mr Opposs said.

For the first time, this year, names of candidates' schools and colleges have been withheld from markers after a complaint last year that examiners were discriminating against independent school pupils. Again, Mr Opposs said, there was no evidence that they were.

All candidates will be able to see their marked scripts, if they wish, this year, after a successful pilot last year. Then, about 10 per cent of GCSE candidates and between 10 and 20 per cent of A-level candidates asked to see their scripts but the number of appeals against grades remained unchanged. In New Zealand, where candidates have been able to see marked scripts for nearly a decade, appeals have fallen.

* Last night, 2,800 Scottish university applicants had still not received their full results but Scottish University vice-chancellors said checks on the other results showed it was very unlikely that any candidates would have their grades revised downwards.

Most universities were therefore going ahead and confirming places for candidates who had met their offers and clearing is likely to start as usual tomorrow.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) said confirmation letters to applicants with complete results who had met the terms of the offer would be sent out tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, Scottish applicants could contact a helpline on 01242 227788.

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