Schools boost GCSE results by avoiding hard subjects

Only one in six pupils in England achieved five A* to C grade passes in English, maths, a science, a language and a humanities subject at GCSE, league tables published yesterday show.

The figures mean that 269 schools didn't register one pupil as eligible for the Coalition's flagship new "English baccalaureate", designed to boost the take-up of academic subjects at GCSE. In more than 600 schools, only one in 50 pupils qualifies.

Nationally, just 15 per cent of GCSE candidates would have obtained the certificate, earned by pupils who obtain five A* to C grade passes in English, maths, a science, a language and a humanities subject.

Since league tables were introduced, many schools have improved their ranking by entering more pupils for vocational qualifications, which are deemed to be worth the equivalent of four GCSE passes.

Figures released yesterday by the Government show that the take-up of science has dropped by 60,000 in the past four years, while the take-up of modern languages has dropped by a third in a decade.

Last night a furious row broke out over the Government's decision to rank schools on Baccalaureate eligibility this year, as the certificate will not officially be awarded to pupils until 2011. Dr Bernard Trafford, former president of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and head of Royal Newcastle Grammar School, described the measure as "a complete nonsense".

Restrictions on which courses count towards the Baccalaureate mean that those taking Edexcel's IGCSE – an exam based on the old O-level – would not be eligible, while those who used a different exam board would.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Today's announcement is unfair to young people... There are sure to be students who achieved 12 A-grades at GCSE, but because they did not choose to study history or geography as a humanities subject will not earn the Baccalaureate."

The impact the initiative could have on a school's fortunes can be seen at Darwin Academy in Lancashire. Although it managed to double the number of pupils earning five A* to C grades including maths and English, only 1.5 per cent of its boys and none of its girls qualified for the Baccalaureate.

However, others welcomed the new measure. Libby Steele, head of education at the Royal Society, said: "The introduction of an English Baccalaureate target is a logical step to ensure that young people receive a rounded education."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas