Lib Dems slam Labour's education failure

The number of teenagers leaving school without five good GCSEs since Labour came to power will pass three million this week, the Liberal Democrats predicted today.

Since 1997, almost 2.9 million pupils have finished school without five A*-C grades.

Last year alone, more than a third of the year group (35.2 per cent), a total of 230,140 16-year-olds, left school without these grades - a key measure of success.

If this trend continues, the numbers will top three million, the Lib Dems claimed.

Youth charity The Prince's Trust warned that enough teenagers to fill Wembley Stadium almost three times over will receive poor grades when the results are published tomorrow.

Lib Dem schools spokesman David Laws said: "These shocking figures reveal the true extent of Labour's failure in education.

"After over 10 years in power, it is deeply concerning that around one third of pupils are leaving education without even achieving the basic standard of five good GCSEs.

"It is these young people, let down by Labour, who are now likely to be bearing the brunt of the recession.

"Ministers need to start getting the basics right early on, so no child falls behind."

The Prince's Trust said that last year's GCSE results suggest half of pupils will leave school with a D or below in English or maths (last year the figure was 47 per cent).

Trust chief executive Martina Milburn said: "There will be enough pupils leaving school with poor grades today to fill Wembley Stadium almost three times over - and their prospects in the recession are tougher than ever.

"With the right opportunities and support we can give school leavers a brighter future. Unemployed does not need to mean unemployable."

The GCSE pass rate is expected to rise again when the national results are published tomorrow.

Last year 65.7 per cent of exam entries were awarded at least a C grade, and this is likely to rise to over two thirds this year.

More than a fifth (20.7 per cent) of entries were given an A* or A grade, and this could be nearer 22 per cent this year.