GCSE results day 2015: A* grades fall for fourth year in a row

As the sciences see improvement, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications says 'there is very little change in this year's results'

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The Independent Online

A rise in the number of top grade A* to C grade passes has been revealed on the day more than 600,000 teenagers receive their GCSE results.

Figures show almost seven out of ten entries (69 per cent) were awarded at least a C grade pass – up 0.2 per cent on the previous year.

However, there was a slight drop in the number of A* grades – down 0.1 per cent to 6.6 per cent, the fourth year in a row they have fallen.

Most have been worrying about this year’s results, though there was a further slump in the number of candidates taking modern foreign languages – which had already seen a fall of 50 per cent in the take-up of French and German in the past decade.

Even Spanish – the only language success story of the last decade – saw a fall with numbers dropping by 2.4 per cent to 90,782.

French was down 6.2 per cent to 157,699, and German 9.8 per cent to 54,037. The figures are a concern for ministers since it seems even the introduction of the English Baccalaureate – ranking schools on the percentage of pupils getting top-grade passes in English, Maths, the sciences, a language, and history or geography – has failed to inspire a revival in the subject.

There was better news on the sciences, though, with entry levels increasing by 3.8 per cent – going some way to reversing a 9.7 per cent drop in 2014. In English, there was a 0.5 per cent drop in the number of A* grades awarded to 3.1 per cent, but the number of A* to C grades rose by 3.7 per cent to 65.4 per cent.

In Maths, the number of candidates getting at least a C grade pass went up from 62.4 per cent to 63.3 per cent.

Michael Turner, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications, the umbrella body representing exam boards, said: “At a national level, there is very little change in this year’s results.”