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The headmaster of one of Britain's top achieving schools has seen his pupils improve yet again, despite what he brands 'political pressures'. Paul Evans, Headteacher of Colyton Grammar School in Devon, saw his school top the national league table for GCSE last January.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict the outcome of our public examinations due to the political pressures to tighten standards nationally. In a year when we are told it is more difficult to achieve top grades, we increased the A* and A grades. It is a great relief to see that through hard work and determination, our students have maintained high standards and delivered the results that will set them up well for six form study and beyond.
– Paul Evans, Headteacher, Colyton Grammar School
No one should underestimate the effort required to achieve high numbers of top grades across a range of subjects and the students should be very proud of what they've managed to achieve."
More than half the year group achieved five or more top A* grades in a year when 49.4% of the GCSE grades obtained at the school were A* which was up 4.1% on last year.
He said 83.4% of all GCSEs awarded to Year Ten students taking GCSE at Colyton this summer were graded A8 or A - which was 2.7% higher than last year. Eleven pupils - seven girls and four boys - achieved straight A* in 12 subjects.
– Andy Woolley, South West Regional Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Schools and pupils are being put under ridiculous pressures to meet the latest demands from Ofsted and Government. As exam and test results are increasingly the only measure by which schools are judged it is no surprise some schools are entering pupils for different exams or entering them earlier. Everyone wants the best for pupils but the obsessive target driven culture imposed on schools is stifling learning and pupil engagement."
General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said the "obsessive target driven culture" in schools is "stifling learning".
Christine Blower said: "Congratulations to all pupils and teachers for the hard work they have put into passing this year’s GCSEs.
“The great results speak for themselves and have been achieved despite persistent criticism from the Education Secretary about the validity of GCSEs as a qualification, and the continual shifting of pass rate criteria.
“Schools and pupils are being put under ridiculous pressures to meet the latest demands from Ofsted and Government. As exam and test results are increasingly the only measure by which schools are judged it is no surprise some schools are entering pupils for different exams or entering them earlier.
"Everyone wants the best for pupils but the obsessive target driven culture imposed on schools is stifling learning and pupil engagement."
Ten year old Monty Rix from Cornwall has achieved a grade 'B' in his GCSE Astronomy.
Science was hit by the drop in GCSE results despite more pupils studying biology, chemistry and physics.
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.
There was a "dramatic" rise in the number of GCSE entries for modern foreign languages.
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.
Girls have continued to out-perform boys in GCSEs, recording higher results at A* and A*-C across all subjects.
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.
Exam boards have criticised the rise in the number of 15-year-olds taking GCSE exams, with 91,000 children sitting the tests a year early.
– Andrew Hall of the exam board AQA
Why oh why do we now get a significant increase in 15-year-olds taking GCSE?
– Mark Dawe of the exam board OCR
Early entry does not benefit the students. The results are far lower for 15-year-olds - these qualifications are designed for 16-year-olds.
Students should be left to learn for those two years and that is what we would encourage.