Mediocre grades mean you are a better worker

22nd August 2003 at 01:00
EMPLOYERS wanting to recruit team players should look amongst those who fail to get top GCSE grades, new research suggests.

Many high performers will "simply not be cut out for jobs" that involve working closely with others, it says.

Pupils who enjoy working closely with others do significantly less well in exams, according to the three-year study of 15 and 16-year-olds at a top-performing school in Hertfordshire by Dr Stephen Fletcher and Amanda Callen, of the occupational psychology firm OPC assessment.

Pupils in the top 10-15 per cent were less interested than poorer performers in working with others or involving other people in their decisions.

Those doing well in languages were particularly unlikely to enjoy working as part of a team.

The findings may provide some consolation for young people who failed to get top GCSE grades this week.

But researchers said it created a potential headache for businesses who place increasing importance on recruits having "soft skills" such as team-working as well as good academic results.

"The findings raise serious concern for blue-chip employers. It means employers will have to work harder to select recruits, not just assume that the best GCSE results will automatically (identify the best workers)."

Meanwhile, a separate study published this week found the "gender gap" - girls outperforming boys at GCSE - is now an all-pervasive feature of England's schools.

No matter how successful a school is, or whether or not it serves a deprived area, one thing it seems is certain: the girls are likely to outperform the boys (see box, below left).

Researchers said the pattern was now so well-established that there might be little that individual schools could do about it. The Government, they said, might do better to focus its energies on countering, for example, the impact of poverty in schools.

Academics at Bristol university analysed the results of 500,000 pupils at 3,103 secondaries at the ages of 14 and 16 in 1999 and 2001.

They said the universality of the gender gap suggested it was dependent less on what happened in schools and more on "external" factors, such as differing attitudes to work and differences in the way that the brain works.

Dr Deborah Wilson, a co-author of the research, said: "Maybe the focus of policy should be less about whether boys sit next to girls in the classroom than about looking at the external factors which influence the gender gap."

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,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today