Maths failures more than double

RESULTS FOR about 600,000 GCSE candidates released today show that mathematics standards are slipping. While the percentage of candidates getting top grades is up overall, in maths it is down.

The proportion of candidates failing maths is also up from 2.1 to 5.2 per cent - a bigger increase than for any other subject.

Baroness Blackstone, the Education minister, said: "I am pleased that entries and attainment have held up well in science. But I am disappointed that the proportion of higher grades A*-C in the equally important subject of mathematics has declined slightly.

"This highlights the need already identified by the Government for a greater focus on the teaching and learning of numerical and mathematical skills in schools."

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, said: "The overall decline in the performance in mathematics is very worrying. It obviously reflects the difficulty in recruiting good mathematicians to teaching and provides a vivid illustration of how poor pay prospects for teachers lead to poor performance by pupils."

By contrast, the proportion getting at least a C grade in English has risen slightly, although the failure rate also showed a small increase.

Lady Blackstone welcomed the increase in GCSE entries - up 2.1 per cent. "But we are not complacent," she said. "Far more young people have the potential to do well in school."

This year's candidates were the first to take the exam since Sir Ron Dearing's review of the national curriculum was acted upon. Entries for history and geography, which have become optional, have declined slightly and those for the now compulsory design and technology and foreign languages are up.

For the first time, pupils could take short courses that are of the same academic standard as a full GCSE. The short courses in religious education are proving particularly popular.

Dr Ron McLone, secretary of the Joint Council for the GCSE, said: "This is the tenth anniversary of GCSEs. Over those 10 years the examination has successfully unlocked the potential of a growing number of young people and stimulated their interest in learning."

Two schoolfriends being treated at a cancer hospital have been denied GCSE passes after becoming too ill to sit their exams. Ainsley Kenyon and her friend, Philip Gibson, both 16, had completed two years of study and were both tipped to get A-C grades in 10 subjects each after handing in course work and taking mock exams.

But Ainsley, who has a benign brain tumour, was rushed to hospital as the exams started and Philip - diagnosed in April with bone cancer - was too ill to attend. Despite a request for special consideration by their headteacher at Canon Slade School in Bolton, Greater Manchester, both were told they would not make the grade.Philip is to fight on and plans to write to David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education.

David Blunkett,

Review, page 4

HOW THE SUBJECTS COMPARE

provisional GCSE results, June 1998

(figures in brackets are the equivalent provisional figures for 1997)

Subject Number Subject Results by Grade, %

sat A* A B C D E F G U

Art (1) 206,781 6.8 13.3 19.1 24.2 15.9 10.7 6.4 2.8 0.7

(221,543) (5.5) (13.1) (17.9) (25.5) (18.0) (11.4) (5.8) (2.3) (0.4)

Business Studies 103,262 2.6 8.6 14.6 26.2 18.8 13.0 8.4 4.6 3.2

(115,498) (2.2) (8.4) (15.1) (25.4) (19.6) (12.4) (8.9) (4.7) (3.4)

Classical Civilisation 3,529 7.0 22.8 26.2 21.7 12.8 4.6 2.2 1.2 1.5

(3,644) (6.9) (21.2) (24.0) (22.9) (13.0) (4.0) (2.7) (1.7) (3.6)

Design & Technology 385,057 2.3 9.7 14.3 23.4 19.4 14.4 9.1 4.6 2.8

(2) (235,877) (1.8) (7.6) (17.0) (20.5) (20.5) (16.3) (10.2) (4.6) (1.6)

Drama 83,090 3.9 16.2 25.7 23.6 15.3 9.2 4.1 1.7 0.5

(85,500) (3.5) (15.9) (26.0) (24.2) (14.9) (9.1) (4.3) (1.6) (0.5)

Economics 7,430 3.8 13.2 21.9 24.6 17.5 8.3 4.6 2.9 3.2

(9,600) (3.1) (13.6) (22.2) (25.6) (17.5) (6.9) (4.9) (2.4) (3.8)

English 637,748 2.4 9.1 17.9 27.1 21.6 12.4 6.3 2.3 1.0

(649,559) (2.0) (8.7) (18.8) (26.5) (22.1) (12.4) (6.8) (2.3) (0.5)

English Literature 490,845 3.6 10.6 19.7 27.8 18.2 11.3 5.4 2.2 1.3

(492,678) (2.8) (10.9) (21.8) (26.8) (18.5) (11.0) (6.0) (1.8) (0.6)

French 335,698 6.3 11.9 13.9 18.6 19.2 15.1 9.7 4.6 0.7

(328,299) (4.1) (15.1) (14.9) (17.2) (18.5) (13.4) (10.8) (5.2) (0.8)

Geography 265,573 4.6 12.2 16.5 22.8 18.1 12.3 7.7 3.7 2.0

(290,201) (3.9) (12.4) (18.5) (20.2) (16.8) (13.2) (9.0) (4.3) (1.6)

German 133,683 7.0 13.0 16.0 20.2 18.1 13.3 8.1 3.8 0.6

(132,615) (5.7) (16.3) (15.4) (18.5) (18.0) (12.1) (8.9) (4.1) (1.0)

Greek 980 50.3 27.0 12.7 6.0 2.7 0.8 0.0 0.1 0.4

(947) (50.7) (26.2) (11.5) (7.6) (3.1) (0.3) (0.0) (0.1) (0.5)

History 209,789 5.2 14.5 20.5 19.3 14.2 11.1 8.1 4.8 2.5

(227,447) (4.3) (13.2) (20.5) (20.0) (14.9) (11.5) (8.2) (5.0) (2.4)

Home Economics 52,855 1.9 7.0 12.3 23.6 20.3 16.1 10.1 5.2 3.5

(104,863) (1.8) (7.8) (14.9) (19.7) (20.7) (17.6) (10.9) (4.9) (1.8)

Humanities 23,267 2.0 7.0 13.6 18.9 18.4 16.8 12.1 7.1 4.0

(35,562) (2.2) (7.4) (13.6) (18.9) (19.5) (17.3) (12.3) (6.7) (2.1)

Information 77,440 3.7 10.5 16.3 26.1 18.1 11.9 7.0 3.3 3.0

Technology (3) (76,043) (2.8) (9.5) (20.4) (24.4) (18.1) (12.3) (6.9) (3.0) (2.6)

Latin 10,945 25.6 32.2 20.1 12.8 5.5 1.7 0.5 0.2 1.4

(11,673) (26.8) (32.5) (20.5) (11.7) (5.1) (0.9) (0.4) (0.3) (2.0)

Mathematics 670,141 2.1 7.8 15.7 21.4 17.4 16.3 9.2 5.1 5.2

(681,265) (2.1) (7.5) (14.6) (23.1) (16.5) (15.6) (12.2) (6.3) (2.1)

Music 42,069 8.4 19.5 22.6 19.3 12.1 8.3 5.5 3.0 1.3

(43,430) (6.7) (18.9) (24.4) (20.1) (12.4) (8.7) (5.2) (2.6) (0.9)

Physical Education 90,734 3.7 10.1 17.5 20.0 24.4 15.2 6.6 1.9 0.6

(87,106) (4.4) (9.1) (15.1) (18.9) (25.1) (16.0) (8.0) (2.6) (0.7)

Religious Studies 113,381 5.5 12.6 18.5 19.9 14.2 11.3 8.5 5.4 4.1

(118,545) (4.9) (12.0) (18.7) (21.0) (15.0) (11.7) (8.5) (5.2) (2.8)

Science: Biology 47,523 11.1 26.1 26.8 21.4 9.1 3.5 1.0 0.2 0.8

(47,743) (10.6) (24.4) (30.1) (19.4) (8.4) (4.4) (1.8) (0.2) (0.8)

Science: Chemistry 46,025 13.5 26.5 27.1 20.6 7.7 2.8 0.8 0.3 0.7

(45,797) (13.7) (21.8) (29.4) (21.9) (7.4) (3.5) (1.4) (0.2) (0.8)

Science: Combined 1,006,151 3.3 7.6 12.6 25.2 21.5 15.4 8.7 3.4 2.3

(1,007,640) (3.5) (7.0) (17.6) (20.4) (21.8) (16.2) (9.1) (2.8) (1.7)

Science: Physics 45,319 15.8 24.6 25.1 21.1 8.6 2.8 0.8 0.2 0.8

(44,892) (13.6) (22.7) (29.4) (20.6) (7.5) (3.8) (1.5) (0.1) (0.8)

Social Science 3,327 1.1 4.6 12.4 21.7 19.0 17.2 12.0 7.4 4.6

(4,397) (1.1) (4.5) (13.2) (19.5) (21.2) (15.6) (13.0) (7.0) (4.9)

Spanish 47,269 10.7 15.4 15.2 16.7 14.9 12.5 8.9 4.8 0.8

(43,826) (8.4) (21.0) (15.5) (14.4) (13.8) (10.2) (10.6) (5.3) (0.8)

Welsh First Language 3,904 3.4 10.5 19.6 31.3 22.1 9.5 2.7 0.7 0.2

(3,809) (2.0) (11.1) (20.1) (28.8) (21.4) (10.7) (3.9) (1.6) (0.4)

Welsh Second 8,128 11.6 18.2 13.3 21.3 16.0 10.0 5.1 2.6 1.9

Language (7,438) (10.8) (16.2) (13.7) (19.1) (16.6) (11.7) (7.3) (3.0) (1.5)

Welsh Literature 3,031 5.8 13.3 18.6 29.2 18.5 9.9 3.2 1.0 0.4

(2,931) (3.1) (12.6) (17.8) (28.6) (17.9) (10.3) (5.5) (2.8) (1.3)

Combined Subjects 14,480 0.9 6.8 13.4 21.0 23.8 16.5 10.4 4.4 2.7

(31,011) (1.1) (6.9) (18.0) (23.5) (20.1) (15.5) (9.8) (4.0) (1.0)

Other Modern 27,035 20.0 26.0 17.6 12.9 9.9 7.1 4.6 1.6 0.4

Languages (29,934) (17.8) (29.6) (16.6) (12.5) (10.7) (6.2) (4.4) (1.9) (0.4)

Other Sciences 20,003 3.5 7.6 13.1 24.5 20.6 12.0 5.7 3.0 10.0

(22,484) (2.9) (7.8) (15.4) (23.5) (20.9) (14.3) (5.8) (2.5) (7.0)

Other Social Sciences 34,407 2.5 9.9 18.0 28.5 19.0 9.0 4.3 2.0 6.8

(38,769) (2.2) (9.4) (19.6) (29.1) (19.9) (6.7) (4.2) (2.0) (6.9)

Other Technology 7,125 2.8 8.1 17.9 24.0 14.6 11.8 8.4 4.9 7.5

(22,862) (2.4) (9.2) (13.6) (18.8) (18.0) (17.0) (12.2) (6.3) (2.5)

All Other Subjects 95,071 2.5 11.0 19.6 24.6 18.4 11.7 6.8 3.3 2.2

(109,748) (2.2) (10.4) (19.1) (25.0) (18.5) (12.7) (7.3) (3.3) (1.5)

All Subjects 5,353,095 4.1 10.6 16.5 23.6 18.6 13.2 7.6 3.5 2.3

(5,415,176) (3.6) (10.5) (18.1) (22.3) (18.7) (13.3) (8.5) (3.6) (1.5)

(1) Previously listed as 'Art and Design'

(2) Previously listed as 'Technology'

(3) Previously listed as 'Information Systems / Computing' Source: Joint Council for the GCSE

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