Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 12:12 UK

Thousands did not sit basic exams

Exam hall
Schools must ensure that at least 30% of pupils reach the GCSE benchmark

Almost one in 10 pupils in England sat fewer than five GCSEs including English and maths, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

This means some 60,000 pupils did not enter enough exams to meet the government's benchmark.

The party's schools spokesman David Laws said too many youngsters left schools without basic qualifications.

Schools face a target of ensuring at least 30% of pupils get five good GCSEs including English and maths by 2012.

Mr Laws said: "Ministers need to get to grips with our education system which still sees too many young people leaving school without basic qualifications.

"The current qualifications are failing too many pupils and denying them the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

"We need a qualifications system which not only stretches the most academic pupils, but properly recognises the skills and talents of all young people."

'Lasting change'

The benchmark set by the government - and used in school league tables - is the expectation that pupils should achieve at least five GCSEs of grade C or above, including the key subjects of English and maths.

But these figures, revealed through a Parliamentary question to Schools Minister Jim Knight, show that many pupils are not even entering a sufficient number of exams to reach this threshold.

Mr Knight pointed out that 70,000 more young people were leaving school with five good GCSEs including English and maths than did so 10 years ago.

There were a range of opportunities for young people that involved practical and applied learning, as well as study of the core subjects, he said.

"No school should accept low attainment as the status quo and we will give teachers the tools and support to make long lasting change.

"We are targeting the lowest achieving children with a revamped secondary curriculum, quality alternative qualifications and apprenticeships and investing 1bn in one-to-one tuition and catch up classes," he added.


SEE ALSO
Brown threatens failing schools
31 Oct 07 |  Education
One in 14 'did not sit core GCSE'
31 Mar 08 |  Education
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