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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 08:42 GMT 09:42 UK
Gender gap widens in GCSE results
Academic performance by boys in Wales has fallen even further behind that of girls, according to the latest GCSE results.

Examining board, the Welsh Joint Education Committee, said the gap between boys and girls achieving A* to C grades is now 11%.


These results are a further step forward toward achieving the demanding targets that have been set for Wales

Welsh Pre-16 Education Secretary Rosemary Butler
Last year the gap was 10% and 9% in 1998.

The so-called "gender gap" in Wales is now larger than the England, Northern Ireland and Wales average - which this year stands at just over 9 %.

Mike Haines of the Welsh school inspectorate Estyn said the gap should not be ignored.

"It's obviously important that teachers refuse to tolerate lower standards from boys - and that applies particularly ro tasks that involve reading and writing."

But the overall results have been welcomed by the Welsh Education Secretary, Rosemary Butler.

Mrs Butler said everyone should feel proud that the GCSE results represented "our best-ever performance".

Improvements

"These results are a further step forward toward achieving the demanding targets that have been set for Wales," she said.

However, she accepted that while all pupils were improving, girls were improving at a faster rate.

"A lot of work is going to be done on (these results). We have to wait until all the results are in and have a serious look at where the variations are," she said.

Overall in Wales, just over 59% of candidates achieved A* to C grades - a slight increase on last year - but still well ahead of the rest of the UK's' average figure of 56.6%.


These results should not be used as cannon fodder for meaningless school league tables

The NUT's Gethin Lewis
More than 16% of candidates achieved the top A* grade, again a slight improvement on last year.

The most significant improvements in Wales were in biology, chemistry, French and geography.

The percentage of A* to C grades in English Literature fell very slightly by less than half a per cent.

The results - which show that the number of GCSE grades A* to E has continued at last year's level of 98.1% - have been welcomed by Wales's largest teachers' union, NUT Cymru.

The union has also welcomed the 3.5% increase in the number of WJEC entries.

'Commitment'

Dr Heledd Hayes, NUT Cymru Education Officer said: "The NUT is pleased to see that the number of schools and centres taking examinations set by Wales's national examination body has risen again this year. "

"This only serves to confirm the tremendous respect generated by the WJEC and its committed team of staff."

Gethin Lewis, NUT Cymru secretary, said that many pupils and parents can appreciate the hard work and commitment of teachers in Wales and the way in which they contribute to and influence the lives of our young people.

"The only concern that the NUT has is that these results should not be used as cannon fodder for meaningless school league tables that do not take onto account the school as a whole."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Education Correspondent Louise Elliott
"The so-called "gender gap" in Wales is now larger than the England, Northern Ireland and Wales average"
Welsh Pre-16 Education Secretary Rosemary Butler
"The boys are improving...but girls are improving at a faster rate"
Mike Haines of school inspectorate Estyn
"It's obviously important that teachers refuse to tolerate lower standards from boys"
See also:

23 Aug 00 | UK Education
23 Aug 00 | UK Education
18 Aug 00 | Wales
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