GCSE national picture: Girls outperform boys, but grades fall across the board

There has been a warning over the practice of off-rolling and unlawful exclusions in schools. Photo:

There has been a warning over the practice of off-rolling and unlawful exclusions in schools. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Girls continue to outperform boys at GCSE although grades have fallen across the board, according to results released on Thursday.

The figures, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), show that the gender gap has increased slightly, by 0.5pc, this summer, with 71.3pc of girls' entries awarded at least a C grade, compared with 62.4pc of boys'. However, both were down on last year, from 73.1pc and 64.7pc respectively.

Girls also outperform boys in terms of achieving the very top grades - with 7.9pc getting an A*, compared with 5.0pc, although both saw a slight decline.

In total, just over two-thirds of entries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (66.9pc) were awarded A*-C - deemed by schools to be a 'good' pass. However, this was a 2.1 percentage point drop on the previous year.

The overall pass rate - those achieving A*-G - also dropped, albeit it only slightly, from 98.6pc in 2015 to 98.4pc this year.


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And there was a 0.1 percentage point drop in A* grades - the fifth year running that there has been a fall - with 6.5pc of entries given the highest mark this year.

The statistics also show a 76.4pc rise in entries for computing (up to 62,454 candidates from 35,414 last year), while engineering (11.7pc rise) and additional science (up 10.5pc) also increased in popularity.

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There were significant drops in the numbers of students taking the humanities GCSE (down 37.4pc), while statistics (-30.7pc) and additional science (further) (-25.6pc) also suffered losses, although all three subjects typically had less than 100,000 students nationally, compared with design and technology GCSE, which had 185,279 students this year (a drop of 9.5pc).

Today's results include vast swathes of students resitting English and maths after stipulations brought in under the coalition government to ensure teenagers in England who do not score at least a C grade in both subjects at the age of 16 are required to continue studying these subjects until they reach this level.

Results showed a 23.2pc increase in the number of students aged 17 and older, although their grades at A*-C dropped by 7.6 percentage points.

Michael Turner, director general of the JCQ, said: 'There is significant movement in this year's entries, which impacts on results and creates a very complex national picture.

'We have seen shifts not only between subjects, but also across qualifications and year groups.

'This is driven by several factors, including performance measures and re-sit policies in England.'

A total of 5,434,597 GCSE results have been issued today, up on last year's 5,429,478.

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