GCSE grades fall as girls outperform boys

Credit: PA

Girls continue to outperform boys at GCSE although grades have fallen across the board, according to results released on Thursday.

The figures, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), show that the gender gap has increased slightly, by 0.5%, this summer, with 71.3% of girls' entries awarded at least a C grade, compared with 62.4% of boys'.

However, both were down on last year, from 73.1% and 64.7% respectively.

Girls also outperform boys in terms of achieving the very top grades - with 7.9% getting an A*, compared with 5.0%, although both saw a slight decline.

In total, just over two-thirds of entries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (66.9%) were awarded A*-C - deemed by schools to be a "good" pass.

However, this was a 2.1 percentage point drop on the previous year.

The overall pass rate - those achieving A*-G - also dropped, albeit it only slightly, from 98.6% in 2015 to 98.4% this year.

And there was a 0.1 percentage point drop in A* grades - the fifth year running that there has been a fall - with 6.5% of entries given the highest mark this year.

The statistics also show a 76.4% rise in entries for computing (up to 62,454 candidates from 35,414 last year), while engineering (11.7% rise) and additional science (up 10.5%) also increased in popularity.

There were significant drops in the numbers of students taking the humanities GCSE (down 37.4%), while statistics (minus 30.7%) and additional science (further) (minus 25.6%) also suffered losses, although all three subjects typically had less than 100,000 students nationally, compared with design and technology GCSE, which had 185,279 students this year (a drop of 9.5%).

Today's results include vast swathes of students resitting English and maths after stipulations brought in under the coalition government to ensure teenagers in England who do not score at least a C grade in both subjects at the age of 16 are required to continue studying these subjects until they reach this level.

Results showed a 23.2% increase in the number of students aged 17 and older, although their grades at A*-C dropped by 7.6 percentage points.

Michael Turner, director general of the JCQ, said:

A total of 5,434,597 GCSE results have been issued today, up on last year's 5,429,478.