Thursday, 23 August 2007

Congratulations are in order

Today sees hundreds of thousands of young people getting their GCSE results. They deserve congratulations for their efforts and successes. It may be true as David Frost, of the British Chambers of Commerce, asserted on the Today programme (sound file) that those without five good GCSEs have fewer opportunities than those without, though it is worth remembering that 71% reach that standard by age 19, and the proportion of youngsters reaching this standard has been rising steadily. It would have been nice, if surprising, to have heard Frost urging those who didn't reach the standard to continue in college or on apprenticeships. Simply excoriating their failure hardly helps his members. Moreover, contrary to the Tories' claims this week, core subjects are on the up: 62% of young people get a C in English and 55% do so in Maths, and science entries are up though some languages are down. And that improvement has been strongest in the schools that have set challenging floor targets, reducing the number of schools where fewer than 25% of pupils get five good GCSEs from over 600 in 1997 to 47 last year. By contrast, the proportion where more than 70% of pupils make the grade rose from 83 to over 600. Those teachers and schools that have continued to make such strong improvements also deserve our congratulations.

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