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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August, 2003, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Welsh GCSE pass rate drops
Girls getting GCSE results
Girls continue to outshine boys at GCSE
The pass rate of GCSEs in Wales has dropped slightly, this year's results have shown.

The overall pass rate fell by 0.3% of a percentage point to 97.6%, reversing the trend in recent years for results to improve.

However, the percentage of candidates achieving the top A* to C grades remains the same as 2002, at 59.7%.

Girls continue to outdo boys, with 64.2% gaining A* to C compared to 55% of males.

The percentage of highest scoring students has risen by 0.1, with 17.1% getting an A* or A.

These results show that we are maintaining the high standards achieved in Wales and they compare very favourably with the national picture
Jane Davidson

But pupils appear to have failed to reach the Welsh Assembly Government main targets for the second year running, although exact figures will not be available until later this year.

The assembly's targets look for 54% of children to gain at least five good passes (grade C or above), but only 50% have managed this.

And 85% of entrants gained five grade A* to G, lower than the target 91%.

Education minister Jane Davidson said the decline in the pass rate showed that exams were not getting easier.

"It makes it absolutely clear the exams are consistent - there will always come a point at which people's performance plateaus," she said.

She added that target levels set when Labour came to power may no longer be relevant.

Jane Davidson
Jane Davidson said the results showed exams were not getting easier

"The targets were set in 1997 - since then, there has been an eight per cent increase in passes from A* to C.

"This is not just an issue for Wales - the whole of the UK is not meeting the targets, so maybe those targets are inappropriate."

She paid tribute to pupils for their efforts and thanked teachers for their dedication.

"These results show that we are maintaining the high standards achieved in Wales and they compare very favourably with the national picture, with Wales maintaining the lead in the number of passes achieved at grade A*-C.

"GCSEs have been a successful instrument for raising achievement at the age of 16," she said.

Abertillery Comprehensive School pupils
Pupils at Abertillery Comprehensive were pleased with their results

"They serve as a very useful 'progress check' for how pupils are doing and ensure that they gain recognition of their achievements in subjects which they may choose not to study further."

The number of students sitting Welsh as a first language rose significantly this year, with 4,899 taking the exam in comparison to 4,491 last year

The pass rate also rose to 99.9%.


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