More than one in three pupils left school in Wales last year without a single higher-grade GCSE pass, according to new figures from the Welsh Office. But the proportion has fallen from nearly half only seven years ago.
Of the 31,000 young people leaving school in Wales in 1993-94, most (60 per cent) planned to stay on in full-time further or higher education, continuing the upward trend of the past seven years. One-fifth were going straight into a job or youth training, down from half seven years ago.
More and more Welsh pupils are gaining two or more passes at A-level: 22 per cent last year, against 14 per cent in 1987-88.
Of those leaving without A-levels, 18 per cent had five or more GCSE passes at grades A-C and 23 per cent had between one and five.
But nearly a quarter of all leavers had only lower-grade GCSEs and a further 11 per cent had no A, AS or GCSE passes. More than half of the last group had some other recognised qualification, such as City and Guilds; only 5 per cent of leavers had no qualifications at all.
As usual, girls achieved higher levels of exam passes than boys and were more inclined than boys to stay on in full-time education.
Comparable figures are not available for England since the Department for Education stopped publishing the school-leavers' survey in 1992.
School-leavers: Results of the 1994 school-leavers survey, available from the Welsh Office, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF1 3NQ.