One in 20 leave school without any qualifications

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The Independent Online

Thirty thousand youngsters will have left school this summer with nothing to show for 11 years of compulsory schooling, the Prince's Trust reveals today.

One in 20 school leavers will not have achieved a single GCSE pass when results are published on Thursday. Despite vigorous attempts to raise standards in recent years the number has remained constant.

The figure is revealed a day after the Confederation of British Industry warned that one in three businesses were sending staff for remedial lessons because they had not been properly taught to read, write or add up.

Research carried out by the Prince's Trust shows that 46 per cent of unemployed youngsters put their problems down to a lack of qualifications and that teenagers from the poorest homes are most likely to leave school with no exam passes. They revealed that the 35 education authorities considered to be the most deprived had made the least progress in reducing the figures.

To tackle the problem, the Trust is launching a national qualification for 16 to 25-year-olds - a certificate in personal, teamwork and community skills - in a bid to restore their confidence. Ms Hamden said: "This will help thousands of young people avoid a lifetime of struggling to find work."

For the first time this year ministers will be collecting figures for youngsters with five top-grade passes, including maths and English, after concerns that many schools are ignoring the basic three R's.

Exam results are expected to show a similar rise to 2005 in students achieving five top grade A* to C grade passes. Last year saw the biggest rise for 13 years, from 59.1 per cent to 61.1 per cent. The overall GCSE pass rate is expected to stay at 97.8 per cent.