Exam system in 'disarray'
As teenagers across the country anticipate their GCSE results this week, concerns were raised today that the exam system is in "disarray" and in need overhauling.
Experts are predicting another bumper crop of results this year, with the possibility that almost seven in ten exams could be awarded at least a C grade.
Last summer's results were another record-breaking year, as the A*-C pass rate rose for the 22nd year in a row.
More than two thirds (67.1%) of entries were awarded at least a C grade, while more than a fifth (21.6%) received an A or A*.
Some 7.1% of entries alone gained a coveted A* grade - this proportion has more than doubled since the grade was first awarded in 1994.
Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, warned: "The UK's exam system in in disarray.
"It consistently fails the 40% of young people who do not get five good GCSE passes and leave school feeling failures.
"But even those who achieve a string of A*s are not well served by GCSEs; they are taught to pass tests, rather than encouraged to learn skills and leave bored by endless testing.
"And crucially our exam-obsessed system is not designed to develop the softer skills, such as creativity, initiative, problem-solving, reasoning, and team-working, that young people need for higher education, work and their future lives.
"The Government desperately needs to end its obsession with exams and agree an assessment system that meets the needs of today's young people."
Professor Alan Smithers, of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University predicted that around 7.5% of entries will be awarded an A* this summer, and above 22% will get an A* or an A.
He said there were a number of reasons for the consistent rise in the proportion of entries awarded top grades.
"It's the structured questions, I think it's the teachers know now what the exam boards are looking for in answers, it's the importance of the results to the schools."
Secondary schools are ranked on the proportion of pupils getting at least five C grades, including in English and maths in annual league tables.
Prof Smithers predicted: "I would have said probably above 22% will get A* or A this year, with the proportion of A* grades perhaps getting close to 7.5%. A* to C grades might be getting around 68%."
Last year, there was a slight drop in the number of English entries being awarded at least a C grade, down to 62.7% from 62.9% in 2008.
Prof Smithers said the results for English and maths are "the best indication of what's happening in the school system".
He added: "It should be going up a bit faster given the investment in primary schools and National Strategies should be filtering through now."
Around 750,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their results on Tuesday.
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: The race is on to help thousands trapped under rubble around Kathmandu, while remote villages face a long wait for help
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...
£25 - 32,500K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Produ...
£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...
£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...