Students at Brighton College in East Sussex, celebrate their GCSE results.

The stories behind the GCSE results

Pupils around the country received their long-awaited GCSE results today - here are some of the stories behind the results.

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Putting GCSEs to the Test

On the day that 650,000 students get their GCSE results, the Tonight programme asks whether the exams are fit for purpose.

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'Underlying factors' behind GCSE results fall

The director of the Joint Council for Qualifications said "underlying factors" affected the dip in GCSE results but praised the "upturn" in the number studying modern languages.

There are many underlying factors affecting this year's GCSEs, including a sizeable increase in entry by 15-year-olds, new science specifications designed with greater challenge, early and multiple entry in mathematics and an increase in the number of students taking IGCSEs.

All of these have had an impact on entries and results.

This year's upturn in languages will be welcomed across the education sector and beyond. Not since 2008 have there been this many entries in languages.

However, it remains to be seen if this is the start of a trend and if more students decide to continue to study a language at A-level.

– Michael Turner, Joint Council for Qualifications director

Science hit by drop in GCSE results

Science was hit by the drop in GCSE results despite more pupils studying biology, chemistry and physics.

Science has seen a drop in results. Credit: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA

There was a drop across the board in all three sciences - in biology, 89.8% of entries got at least a C, down from 92.6% last year, in chemistry 90% of entries scored A*-C, down from 93%, and in physics 90.8% reached this standard, down from 93.2%.

The decline in results for the separate sciences is partly down to bright students switching to IGCSE courses and an increase in the number of 15-year-olds, who tend to perform less well, taking the exams early, JCQ said.

It added that a general trend of more students opting for the three sciences, some of whom will have lower abilities in the subject, may also have had an effect.

GCSE results fall comes after upheaval in exam systems

The dip in GCSE results comes amid a major upheaval in the exams system and it is thought the following issues have contributed to the fall:

  • A rise in the number of pupils entering maths GCSE early or multiple times.
  • A revamp in science GCSE following a 2009 report that said the courses were too easy.
  • An increase in the number of pupils taking international GCSEs (IGCSE) in certain subjects.

Watch: GCSE pupils open their results

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'Dramatic' rise in number of foreign language entries

There was a "dramatic" rise in the number of GCSE entries for modern foreign languages.

The number of entries for GCSE modern languages has sharply risen. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

French entries are up by 15.5%, German up 9.4% and Spanish up 25.8%.

The introduction of the Government's English Baccalaureate, which is awarded to pupils who score at least a C at GCSE in English, maths, science, history or geography, and a foreign language, could be a reason for the rise.

Watch: GCSE pupils open their results

GCSE grades drop in English, maths and science

GCSE grades have fallen for a second consecutive year, with a drop in the proportion of entries scoring at least a C in English, maths and science.

  • In English, 63.6% of entries gained a C or higher, down from 64.1% last summer.
  • In maths, 57.6% of entries scored an A*-C grade, compared to 58.4% in 2012.
  • In Science, there has been a 7.6% fall in the proportion of entries awarded a C grade or higher.

The drop in English comes amid a rise in the number of younger students taking the GCSE exams, the Joint Council for Qualifications said.

The fall in Science follows a move by Ofqual to toughen up the qualifications after a 2009 report by the regulator found that the courses were too easy.

GCSE grades fall for the second year in a row

The proportion of GCSEs awarded at least a C grade has fallen for the second year running.

GCSEs grades have fallen for the second consecutive year. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The number of entries who scored A*-C this summer dropped by 1.3% to 68.1% - the biggest fall in the exam's 25-year history.

Those gaining top grades has also fallen by 0.5% - with 6.8% achieving an A*.

Watch: GCSE pupils open their results

Wretch 32: There is still hope for those with bad GCSEs

GCSEs are "not the be all and end" and there are numerous colleges, vocational courses and charities which will help pupils disappointed with their results get back on track, according to a Prince's Trust ambassador.

Wretch 32 aka Jermaine Scott Sinclair told Daybreak he did not do as well as he would have liked in his GCSEs and urged pupils with poor results not to give up.

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