Fewer leaving empty handed

15th October 1999 at 01:00
MORE than 35,000 teenagers left school without a single GCSE pass this year despite Government initiatives to raise standards and reduce social exclusion.

However, this, at 6.1 per cent of the relevant age-group, was still an improvement on last year when 6.6 per cent failed to earn any qualifications.

The latest figures on last summer's exams suggest that the 2002 targets for 16-year-olds should be met, which would see the number with no qualifications cut to 5 per cent - or around 29,000.

Meanwhile, the target for five good GCSE passes should be more easily achieved. Ministers want half of all 16-year-olds to get at least five good GCSE passes, or their GNVQ equivalent, by 2002.

This year 47.8 per cent of the 581,000 pupils who took GCSE's achieved this, up from 46.3 per cent last year, according to new data released by the Department for Education and Employment.

Announcing the results, education minister Baroness Blackstone said: "We have successfully reduced the number of youngsters leaving school without a single exam pass. Our targets reflect the Government's twin objectives of raising standards and reducing social exclusion. We are making progress on both counts."

But Professor Alan Smithers of Liverpool University believes the targets will only hinder long-term improvement. He said: "What sense does it make to have a target that essentially says that half our pupils should pass and half fail?

"The important issue is the extent to which performance has improved over the last decade, reflecting the increased importance of qualifications, the extra effort of pupils and improved teaching methods."

The complete exam data will be published next month.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today