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The proportion of GCSEs scoring a C or above has fallen for the first time in the exam's 24-year history with official figures revealing a 0.4% drop in the A*-C pass rate in the key subjects of English, maths and science has also fallen.
Thursday's national figures reveal that 69.4% of all GCSE exams were given at least a C grade - down from 69.8% last summer. It is the first time that the A*-C pass rate has fallen in the 24-year history of GCSEs. The exams were first taught in 1986, with the first exams taken in 1988.
The Joint Council for Qualifications, which publishes the national results, said there had been a "dramatic" increase in entries for science GCSE - up 36.5% - and said that the fall in results at A*-C in this subject is partly due to a "more demanding standard" introduced this year, and a "significant" increase in entries by 15-year-olds.
The pass rate had steadily risen since the exams replaced O-levels and CSEs in 1988, when 42.5% of entries were awarded an A*-C grade. By 2010 69.1% were awarded these grades, prompting accusations of grade inflation.
In an attempt to address concerns of "dumbing down" and ensure results were comparable, England's exams regulator, Ofqual, told exam boards they would have to justify any results notably different to those of previous years.
Thursday's statistics show a decrease in the proportion of GCSEs awarded at least a C grade in the core subjects of English, maths and science. The fall is particularly pronounced in English.
In English literature, 76.3% of exams were awarded A*-C, compared with 78.4% last year, and 23.2% earned at least an A, down from 25% in 2011. In English language and combined English literature and language exams, results went down from 65.5% getting A*-C to 64.2%.
In science, which has been made tougher, there has been a 2.2 percentage point drop in the proportion of entries awarded an A*-C grade. Some 60.7% are achieving these good grades.
There has also been a fall in A*-C results in maths, with 58.4% of entries getting at least a C grade, down from 58.8% in 2011.
Fears that government spending cut backs together with its target of raising of school GCSE targets to 40% of pupils getting five good GCSEs (including English and maths), combined with shifts in grade boundaries means schools may face difficulties where academy conversion maybe seen as a solution despite it supposedly being for schools that are excelling.
We have seen schools with Ofsted reports of only satisfactory putting measures in place within 6 months that thereafter permit them to apply for academy status. If you need any help and advice on Academy Schools and or Charities, contact ABDS to discuss how we can help.
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