GCSE top grades reach record levels

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The Independent Online

GCSE results to be published today show record numbers of pupils achieving top grades, although the pass rate has failed to improve for the first time since the exam was introduced.

GCSE results to be published today show record numbers of pupils achieving top grades, although the pass rate has failed to improve for the first time since the exam was introduced.

Officials said the pass rate had reached a plateau at 97.9 per cent and was unlikely ever to reach 100. But 56.6 per cent of entries from the 670,000 pupils who took the exam were awarded grades A* to C, an increase of 0.9 per cent. Numbers achieving the coveted A* grade rose by just 0.2 per cent.

The gap between boys and girls, evident in last week's A-level results, is much greater at GCSE but has scarcely widened this year. Overall, girls have a 9.2 per cent lead over boys, with 5.6 per cent of entries at A* compared with 3.7 per cent for boys. In maths, the boys are just ahead in the proportion of A*s.

Estelle Morris, the Schools minister, said: "These are good results. At GCSE there is once again a significant increase in overall entries. GCSE results retain their currency."

But Susan Anderson, the director of human resources policy at the Confederation of British Industry, said: "The numbers of top grades still compare badly with our competitors. Around half of candidates fail to achieve a pass between A and C in maths and science, while 40 per cent fall below that level in English."

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