The head of the Joint Council for Qualifications has said there is very little change in this year's GCSE results but education policies are continuing to impact on entry patterns and results.
At a national level there is very little change in this year's results but we do see educational policies continuing to have an effect on entry patterns and results at a subject level. This is particularly the case in English, mathematics and the sciences.
The proportion of GCSEs awarded at least a C grade has risen again this year, but top grades have fallen for the fourth year in a row, according to official figures.
They also reveal:
- In total, almost seven in 10 (69%) entries were awarded A*-C, up 0.2 percentage points on 2014.
- There was a 0.1% point drop in A* grades - the fourth year running that there has been a fall - with 6.6% of entries given the highest mark this year.
- 73.1% of girls' entries awarded at least a C grade, compared to 64.7% of boys'.
- The numbers of students taking languages at GCSE has fallen.Entries for French were down 6.2%, German entries were down 9.2% and Spanish down 2.4%. But grades for languages have improved.
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Education Secretary Michael Gove has hit back at "culture warriors" who he says have wrongly accused him of banning modern American novels from the GSCE syllabus.
Responding in an article for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Gove denied that he had banned American authors in general or John Steinbeck's 1937 novella Of Mice And Men in particular.
Commenting on exam board OCR's Paul Dodd's claim, the former journalist replied that he had "read and loved" Of Mice And Men and To Kill A Mockingbird as a child.
"Just because one chap at one exam board claimed I didn't like Of Mice And Men, the myth took hold that it - and every other pesky American author - had been banned," he said.
An organisation representing English teachers has launched a scathing attack on the new GCSE curriculum, claiming it will put teenagers off studying literature.
The new syllabus will not include several classic American works, including John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, reportedly at the insistence of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove.
The chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English, Bethan Marshall, told the Sunday Times: “It’s a syllabus out of the 1940s and rumour has it Michael Gove, who read literature, designed it himself. Schools will be incredibly depressed when they see it."
She argued that studying 19th century British works would deter students from continuing with the subject, saying: "Kids will be put off doing A-level literature by this. Many teenagers will think that being made to read Dickens aged 16 is just tedious. This will just grind children down.”
Classic novels by American authors such as John Steinbeck and Harper Lee are to be taken off the GCSE English curriculum after Education Secretary Michael Gove reportedly insisted teenagers should study more works by British authors.
Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and the Arthur Miller play The Crucible are among the books that have been taken off the list.
The new curriculum will be unveiled this week and the Sunday Times (£) reports that three quarters of the books will be by Britons, with the majority written before the 20th century.
“[Steinbeck's] Of Mice and Men, which Michael Gove really dislikes, will not be included. It was studied by 90% of teenagers taking English literature GCSE in the past,” exam board OCR said.
However they also pointed out that between 70-80% of the work studied on the current curriculum are by British authors.
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Teenagers studying English Literature will have to study at least 15 poems at GCSE, including works by authors such as Wordsworth, Byron and Keats, under a major shake-up of the exams.
Details of new GCSEs in English and Maths - due to be taught in schools from September 2015 - were unveiled by the Department of Education today.
In future, pupils will be required to learn poems by no fewer than five poets - and to study 300 lines of poetry at a minimum.
Youngsters will also be told they must "broaden their knowledge of literature" and read widely to prepare for unseen texts in exam papers.
The new Maths GCSE will also be "bigger in content", and more challenging and will include new sections on ratio, proportion and rate of change.
The Department for Education hailed the new GCSEs as more "challenging, ambitious and rigorous".
One student told ITV News that a greater focus on exams under the new GCSE system would be better than having regular assessments.
Kevin Judd, 15, said: "You haven't got loads of work to do throughout the year, you just revise once and get the exam out the way."
He also thought the new number grading system for GCSEs would be better for students in the long run, because scoring 6 or 7 out of 9 could seem like more of an achievement than receiving a C or a D grade under the present regime.