Big drop in GCSE success blamed on exam changes

44 children are home-schooled in Harrogate district last year, up from 26 in 2012.

44 children are home-schooled in Harrogate district last year, up from 26 in 2012.

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THE number of Leeds pupils achieving at least five good GCSE grades has dropped to just over 50 per cent.

The level of Yorkshire pupils coming out with at least five Cs, including English and maths, dropped to 53 per cent, the lowest of any region in England.

Yorkshire’s results last year had taken the region off the foot of the table but the county is again back at the bottom.

Within Yorkshire, the best results this year were in York where nearly 62 per cent of pupils achieved the benchmark. Bradford was the worst on 43.4 per cent.

Leeds dropped from 56.6 per cent to 50.2 per cent this year but Government officials said it was difficult to compare the latest results with previous years due to major reforms.

These include a move to cut thousands of vocational qualifications from school performance measures, and the decision that only a student’s first attempt at a GCSE will count in the league tables.

Paul Brennan, deputy director of children’s services at Leeds Council, said: “It is unfortunate that the new exam system introduced by Ofqual this year was not as flexible as in previous years and favours more academic pupils. Less coursework was able to count towards the end result, and there were more end-of-course exams rather than exams being taken throughout the year. Changes to the range and number of non-GCSE qualifications which are counted in the performance tables have also affected results. It is very disappointing that these changes have clearly disadvantaged children in Leeds this year.

“It also means that pupils whose potential is better reached through vocational and modular learning, and who have worked incredibly hard, might not see their efforts reflected in their results as positively as they should be.”

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