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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 15:58 GMT
Government exam targets missed
Classroom
Schools falling below skills targets
The government has missed its qualifications target for 19-year-olds in England by more than 10 percentage points, according to official figures.

The Department for Education and Skills found 74.8% of people of that age achieved the equivalent of five or more GCSE A* to C grades.

The original target of 85% has now been revised to 78% - by 2004.

Embarrassment

The National Learning Target was set for achievement at GCSE, A-level and degrees soon after Labour gained power in 1997, with the aim of improving the skills of the workforce.

So far, only the figure for degrees has been reached.

Shadow education secretary Damian Green said: "Far too many young people leave school unprepared and under-qualified for the world outside.

"Unless we get the basic skills of literacy and numeracy right in primary schools we will continue to see a quarter of secondary school leavers fail to achieve the necessary levels.

"Six years on from Tony Blair's promise of education, education, education, it is clear that we are seeing failure, failure, failure."

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Phil Willis added: "These targets are proving an embarrassment to Labour.

"They consistently show how the Government is failing to meet its own standards."

But a DfES spokesman said: "This is a deep-rooted problem. Historically, the UK has had low rates of people staying on after 16.

"We are already taking major steps to address this through a stronger, more relevant curriculum for 14 to 19-year-olds.

"We are committed to making high-quality vocational options available to all students."

The government is failing to meet its own standards

Phil Willis, Liberal Democrats
Just under 54% of 21 year olds achieved the equivalent of two A-levels. The government target was 60%.

However, almost one quarter of all people of working age now has a degree level qualification. This amounts to 7.7m people.

Meanwhile, the number of 19-year-olds without any qualifications fell from 8% to 7% during the year 2001 to 2002.

But Gwen Evans, joint acting general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, claims the improvement is not enough.

She said: "For everyone, this a case of 'could do better'.

"But in reality there is no chance of doing better while funding is so limited and while young people with special needs rely on living in the right area to stand a chance of getting the extra support they ought to be having."

See also:

10 Jan 03 | Education
19 Nov 02 | Education
21 Jan 03 | Education
22 Nov 02 | Education
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