UK schools under fire

GCSE pupils have turned their backs
on traditional subjects opting for ‘softer’ alternatives such as media studies,
league tables show.

Schools were accused of failing to
prepare their pupils for the workplace today as league tables revealed fewer
than one in six pupils in England scored five good grades in traditional GCSEs.

For the first time, annual league
tables have measured schools’ performance by the proportion of children who
obtain the new “English baccalaureate”.

This is awarded to teenagers who
achieve GCSEs in English, maths, a science, a foreign language and a humanity,
such as history or geography, at grade C or above.

The government is also publishing
data on how schools spend public money, which is intended to encourage them to
spend more efficiently.

 The figures show a wide variation in spending
between schools – and no correlation with their pupils’ levels of attainment.

Private schools and teaching unions
have criticised the introduction of the English bac for this year’s league
tables, saying it unfairly skewed the results of schools which had not prepared
for it.

At famous public schools including
Eton and Harrow, no pupils qualified in the English bac, according to the
league tables.

This is because many private
schools have dropped GCSEs in favour of the International GCSE (IGCSE),
regarded as a tougher qualification.

In some subjects, these have not
yet been recognised by the exams watchdog, Ofqual.

A subject causing particular
concern to private schools is the Edexcel exam board’s maths IGCSE, which did
not count towards this year’s rankings.

The new rankings show just 15.6 per
cent of pupils achieved the English bac in their GCSEs last summer.

 In more than three-quarters of secondary
schools – 3,151 – fewer than half of pupils achieved the English bac.

 Fewer than 4 per cent of pupils on free school
meals are thought to have achieved the English bac according to the Department
for Education.


The English bac is intended to push students towards traditional subjects such as science.
Photo: File

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