Girls beat boys again in GCSE battle


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Boys may have claimed more of the very top grades at A-level last week, but today's results show that girls are still in the lead when it comes to GCSEs.

Female students continue to do better than their male counterparts at the age of 16, with 8.7% of girls' entries given an A* compared to 6% of boys' entries. The gap, of 2.7 percentage points, is exactly the same as it was last year.

In total, 18.9% of boys' entries achieved either an A or A* this year, compared to 25.6% of girls' entries, with the gap of 6.7 percentage points also the same as it was in 2011.

At grades A* to C, girls are pulling away, with 65.4% of boys' entries attaining that level, compared to 73.3% of girls' entries - a gap of 7.9 percentage points. Last year, 66% of boys' entries achieved A* to C, compared to 73.5% of girls' entries.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of exam board AQA, said: "Girls are continuing to outperform at A*s and As. Girls are increasing the gap very slightly at grades A to C."

The difference between girls' and boys' achievement is marked in English, with girls doing better than boys by 14.6 percentage points at grades C and above. In total, 71.3% of girls' papers achieved that level, compared to 56.7% of boys' papers.

It was a similar story in English literature, with 82.1% of female candidates' papers being awarded at least a C and 69.8% of boys' papers attaining the same standard - a gap of 12.3 percentage points.

In maths, boys performed slightly better than girls however, with 58.8% of their exams being given a C or above, compared to 57.9% of girls' papers, a difference of 0.5 percentage points.

Last week's A-level results showed that boys had done better than girls at the A* grade for the first time since it was introduced. Out of the total number of male entries, 8% were awarded the A*, compared with 7.9% of girls.

The subjects with the highest proportion of female candidates, in order, were health and social care, home economics, performing arts, social science subjects and art and design subjects.

Those with the highest proportion of male candidates were construction, manufacturing, engineering, technology (not including ICT or design and technology) and economics.

Mr Gove criticised the O-level as "only ever an examination for a minority", saying he did not want to see the return of a two-tier system.

He told Sky News he thought the UK could learn lessons from other countries "which are, to be frank, even better than we are".

Criticising the current system of modular assessment, he said: "I think that bite-size approach to learning and also actually to assessment doesn't really help students to be all they can be.

"One of the things I want to move away from is simply the absorption and the regurgitation of facts or pre-prepared gobbets of information; what I'd like to have in exams are an opportunity for young people to show that they really understand and are ready to move on."

He said he was very keen to have more academies and free schools, adding: "All the evidence, including some of the GCSE results that have come out today, shows that academy schools can help young people who may have been let down in the past do even better."