More take science, fewer take languages but overall GCSE results improve for 23rd year in a row

The GCSE pass rate in England and Wales has increased for the 23rd year running, with seven in 10 entrants awarded at least a C and one in five picking up an A* or A grade.

August 24, 2010

The improved results came despite a drop in the number of GCSE entries, down to about 5.37 million entries this year from 5.47 million in 2009. Overall, 69 per cent of all GCSE entries were awarded a C or above, representing an increase of 2 per cent on last year.

The number of entries in English awarded at least a C grade dropped last year, but it increased again this summer, up from 62.7 to 64.7 per cent.

Results also improved in mathematics, with the proportion awarded a C grade or higher rising from 57.2 to 58.4 per cent.

Overall, girls are still doing better than boys: 72.6 per cent of girls’ GCSE entries gained at least a C compared with 65.4 per cent of boys.

But boys marginally outperformed girls in mathematics, with 58.6 per cent scoring a C or better, compared with 58.3 per cent of girls.

The drive to increase the number of pupils studying science appears to be working, with increases in biology, chemistry and physics. However, the proportion of students awarded top grades in those subjects fell, according to figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications.

Languages suffered again, continuing the decline seen since the former Labour government removed the requirement to study a foreign language after the age of 14.

But although entries for French, German and Spanish GSCEs fell, more pupils opted to study other modern languages, with entries for Chinese up by 5 per cent and Portuguese by 9.6 per cent.

In a warning timed to coincide with the publication of results, the University and College Union said today that pupils aiming to go on to vocational courses or into the workplace after their GCSEs may find it challenging, as they will be competing against 18-year-olds who have failed to get into university as well as recent graduates.

hannah.fearn@tsleducation.com

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