Welsh pupils take lead with most top marks

4th September 1998 at 01:00
This year saw a record number of passes at A to C. But the story is not so good for maths and English. Sarah Cassidy reports

A RECORD proportion of Welsh pupils achieved A*-C grades at GCSE last week with more candidates getting top grades than ever before.

Although the Welsh GCSE pass rate remained slightly below the UK average, the proportion of Welsh pupils winning the coveted A* and A grades overtook their English counterparts this year.

In Wales 57.8 per cent of GCSE candidates attained one or more A*-C grades, an increase of 2.2 percentage points on last year. The average figure for England, Wales and Northern Ireland was 54.7, a rise of 0.3 percentage points.

There was a marked increase in the number of Welsh pupils getting A and A* grades, leaping 2.1 percentage points to 15.6 per cent compared with the UK average of 14.7 per cent. In Wales most subjects saw a modest increase in the proportion of pupils getting higher grades but English (oral), double award science, biology and physics saw a decrease.

The highest proportion of A* to C grades were awarded in the single sciences, with 84.2 per cent in biology, 81 per cent in chemistry and 84.2 per cent in physics.

But while a fall in the pass rate for England and Ulster sparked accusations that low-achievers were being neglected in favour of candidates who could achieve at least a grade C, the Welsh failure rate remained constant at last year's level of 2.1 per cent. The total number of student entries was 220, 711, a 2.9 per cent decrease on the previous year.

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