Page last updated at 08:52 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 09:52 UK

Welsh GCSE pass rate rises again

Pupils at Penyrheol Comprehensive School in Swansea receive their results last year
The pass rate rose last year but there is concern about poor grades

Pupils across Wales are celebrating their GCSE success with the pass rate rising once again.

Results show 98.5% of students achieved a grade from A* to G, while 65.5% passed with the higher A* to C grades.

Welsh Education Minister Jane Hutt said the excellent achievements are testament to pupils' hard work.

However exam board WJEC said there were concerns, with girls still outperforming boys and the fall in foreign languages studied to GCSE.

In Wales this year, those getting A* to C grades rose by half a percentage point to 65.5%,

The cumulative percentage of pupils gaining A* - G grades also rose very slightly, from 98.4% in 2008 to 98.5% in 2009.

The pass rates for GCSE have improved again this year and it's wonderful news that we continue to see more students achieving the higher grades
Education Minister Jane Hutt

The percentage of pupils achieving A* was 6.2% compared with 6.1% last year, with 18.9% achieving A or A*, exactly the same as last year.

Derek Stockley, the WJEC's director of examinations and assessment, said: "I think on the whole the results are heartening and we congratulate the pupils and their teachers for their success. But there are certain things that leap out at us as we look at the results.

"It's worrying that there are still more people doing the Welsh second language short course than the full course.

"That's not desirable either educationally or linguistically for the future of the Welsh language in Wales and for our students."

Mr Stockley added: "The numbers doing modern foreign languages are down again despite some glimmers of hope - Spanish, Mandarin and so forth."

However, he said the problem of girls achieving better than boys persisted.

"The gap is probably pronounced as ever and it is of concern to us obviously.

"We have examples of schools in the valleys who are making valiant efforts in this field and ensuring that the boys do as well as the girls.

"I think the message here is that Estyn and the Welsh Assembly Government need to collect examples of good practice and find out why some schools can succeed in ensuring that is the case, and others can't."

Education Minister Jane Hutt said "The pass rates for GCSE have improved again this year and it's wonderful news that we continue to see more students achieving the higher grades.

"The continued increasing participation and impressive success rates in physics, chemistry and biology is very pleasing.

"Our strong showing in GCSE science, coupled with continued increases in take up of additional maths indicates that more of our young people are gaining the skills necessary to meet the future needs of technology and industry in Wales and across the world."

Employment market

The number of candidates for the Welsh baccalaureate intermediate and foundation level qualifications, umbrella qualifications incorporating GCSEs or their equivalents, nearly doubled compared with last year.

Careers Wales, which offers free careers advice, said the employment market was difficult due to the recession but some work-based learning and training places were still available.

Meanwhile, North Wales Police said it would increase patrols to help combat the problem of under-age drinking by students receiving their results.

Officers are concerned that young people will be getting alcohol from home or buying it illegally from off-licences.

Insp Dewi Roberts, of North Wales Police, said: "We obviously want youngsters to celebrate their achievements but to do so responsibly and sensibly.

"Their achievements should not be marred by the possibility of committing criminal offences whilst under the influence of alcohol or of becoming victims of crime due to being under the influence of alcohol."

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