Unions concerned over increasing exam pressure
Teenagers have been congratulated on their GCSE results as union leaders said they were worried about the drop in the pass rate.
They also said it is “no surprise” that some schools were turning to multiple or early entry amid pressure to get good exam and test results.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “It is worrying that the overall pass rate for GCSEs has fallen for the first time ever, and that the proportion of exam entries graded between an A* and a C has dropped too.
“Grades awarded for English, maths and science fell overall.
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“The good news, though, is that there has been a jump in the number of students taking foreign languages and humanities at GCSE.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “As exam and test results are increasingly the only measure by which schools are judged, it is no surprise some schools are entering pupils for different exams or entering them earlier.
“Everyone wants the best for pupils but the obsessive target-driven culture imposed on schools is stifling learning and pupil engagement.”
Kathryn James, director of policy and campaigns at the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Congratulations to students and schools for on the whole maintaining standards amid a very difficult and uncertain background.”
She added: “This year’s entry patterns indicate the extent to which apprehensions about the accountability system have driven decisions in schools.
“As we anticipate significant reforms to both exams and accountability, we hope that in the future a more appropriate balance will be struck.”
Paul Brown, director of The Prince’s Trust, said: “Today will be a time of celebration for many young people, but we must not forget those who will feel disappointed with their grades and anxious about the future.
“At The Prince’s Trust, we are calling for more vocational support for those who have struggled at school.
“Results day should mark the beginning of a young person’s journey, not the end.”
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Congratulations must go out today to all the young people and teachers who have worked hard to achieve exam success.
“These results show that GCSEs remain rigorous and robust examinations, confounding those who wish to claim that they are a ‘dumbed down’ and debased qualification.”