In the midst of this year's exam season Diane Spencer reports on a new analysis of the 1998-99 results
GIRLS are out-shining boys at GCSE, even in maths and science.
Eighty-nine per cent of pupils attempted a GCSE in English, maths and science, and 36 per cent achieved grades A*-C in all three subjects.
Girls (39 per cent) outscored boys by six percentage points.
When foreign languages are included, 34 per cent of girls achieved A*-C, compared with 24 per cent of boys.
Boys did slightly better in geography - 23 per cent, compared with girls' 21 per cent. The figures are revealed in the latest Department for Education and Employment statistics.
The proportion of 15-year-olds gaining five or more grades A*-C varied between authorities.
Girls still managed to do better than their male classmates, except in Kensington and Chelsea, where the boys' average for good grades was 51 per cent and girls' 37.1 per cent. Girls achieved higher grades at A-level in maths, physics and technology.
Inner London fared the worst at GCSE level, with an average of 35 per cent gaining five A*-Cs, while metropolitan areas ranged from 37.7 to 43.4 per cent.
In the shires, the figure varied from 39 per cent to 62 per cent.
Across England, 59 per cent of schools saw 40 per cent or more 15-year-olds gaining five or more higher grades.
This compares with 55 per cent the previous year.
At A-level, the proportion of 17-year-olds who achieved two or more passes was higher in schools (82.4 per cent) and at sixth-form colleges (77.2) than in further education colleges (52).
The average point score was 17.2 and was higher for girls (17.4) than boys (17).
Advanced-level GNVQs continued to be popula alongside traditional A-levels. Besides the 267,000 young people who attempted A-levels, nearly 23,000 completed GNVQs.
Of these, 41 per cent achieved a merit pass, a quarter a distinction and 20 per cent a basic pass, a distribution similar to last year.
The most popular subjects were business, leisure, health and social care, art and design, and information technology.
At primary level, statistics on national curriculum assessments also show girls are out-performing boys.
The same is true in all key stage 1 subjects. In writing, 88 per cent of girls, compared with 78 per cent of boys, reached expected levels.
The gap was between 3 and 4 percentage points in maths and science.
At KS2, girls were ahead in English but behind in maths and science.
By KS3, girls were neck-and-neck in maths and science but outstripped boys by 18 percentage points in English.
Statistics of Education GCSEGNVQ and GCE AAS Level and advanced GNVQ examination results 1998-99, England, and Statistics of Education, National Curriculum Assessments of 7,11 and 14-year-olds in England, 1999: The Stationery Office. pound;6.50
* The number of 15-year-old girls with five or more GCSE grades A*-C increased from 51.5 per cent in 1997-98 to 53.4 per cent in 1998-99.
* 88.5 per cent of 15-year-olds gained at least five GCSEs at grades A*-G: 90.6 per cent of girls and 86.5 per cent of boys.
* A-level pass rates were slightly higher in schools than in sixth-form colleges: 90.8 per cent and 88.9 per cent respectively.
* 95 per cent of 15-year-olds were entered for one or more GCSEs or GNVQ equivalent and 90 per cent for five or more. On average, pupils attempted eight or nine subjects.