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Letters extra: everyone must pass

The headline "One in four fails to get even one good GCSE" ( TES February 15) illustrates how divisive the push for raising achievement is. My understanding when GCSE was introduced in the Eighties, was that the grades A to G were all passes, designed to represent the range of ability of pupils from the most able in the selective grammar schools to the lowest ability in the secondary modern. Within the comprehensive system all pupils took the same exam and earned a grade commensurate with their ability.

Where therefore, has the idea come from that only C grade and above isnbsp;"good"? To imply therefore that those who are below thenbsp;"norm" arenbsp;"failing", is to decry the effort they put into achieving their D to G grades.

As head of learning support and social inclusion co-ordinator in a comprehensive, I spend my week working with pupils who put in a lot of effort to cope with the national curriculum. Some pupils, capable of coping with the work, find it so irrelevant that they become disaffected to the point of failing to achieve any qualifications at all. Others, with low cognitive abilities but motivated, leave school with lower grade GCSEs.

How therefore can the Government say that these pupils have failed to gainnbsp;"good" GCSEs? If a pupil has worked as hard as they can and achieved a D or even a G, then this must be recognised as a success. If not, then how can I explain to my pupils that it is worth working hard because the qualification they gain at the end of Year 11 is important?

It is time we recognised the achievements of all pupils. It is time to stop measuring schools by simple statistics and to start looking at thenbsp;"value added" they provide.

R W Gerrish
Dallam School
Milnthorpe,
Cumbria

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