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The proportion of GCSEs scoring a C or above has fallen for the first time in the exam's 24-year history. But it's still good news in Cuckfield!
Official figures reveal a 0.4% drop in the A*-C pass rate. The results also show that the percentage of entries awarded at least C in the key subjects of English, maths and science has also fallen.
Thursday's national figures reveal that 69.4% of all GCSE exams were given at least a C grade - down from 69.8% last summer. It is the first time that the A*-C pass rate has fallen in the 24-year history of GCSEs. The exams were first taught in 1986, with the first exams taken in 1988.
Exam board chiefs said this had been a year of "major change" and that drops in results were partly down to tougher science GCSEs and more candidates sitting English in the summer rather than earlier, in the winter exam season.
Around 650,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have received their results.
The Joint Council for Qualifications, which publishes the national results, said there had been a "dramatic" increase in entries for science GCSE - up 36.5% - and said that the fall in results at A*-C in this subject is partly due to a "more demanding standard" introduced this year, and a "significant" increase in entries by 15-year-olds.
Andrew Hall, chief executive of exam board AQA, said: "This year has got more change in it than I think I've seen in my time at any awarding body." AQA stressed that the standards students have to achieve remained the same.
Ziggy Liaquat, managing director of Edexcel, said: "The quality of work required to achieve an A grade this year is the same as the quality of work required to achieve an A grade last year."
The exam boards said changes were most apparent in the science results, with Mark Dawe, chief executive of the OCR, saying that the Government wanted a more difficult paper set for students.
Mr Dawe said: "What's very clear is changes in the science specifications have had an impact on grades, and it was known from the beginning, the Government wanted a harder science paper, when Ofqual was accrediting it, it was a harder science paper, and when the results are coming through, this is harder."
Hear the thoughts of Steve Johnson, head teacher at Warden Park School on a busy and nervy day in Cuckfield - the school's statement follows
Warden Park students achieved some excellent results for 2012. Cleodie Rickard had particular cause for celebration as all her passes were at A* while Eleanor Ferguson smashed the academy’s attainment record with a massive 850 points – the first Warden Park students to gain more than 800 points*. Top achieving boys were William Wright with 8 A* and 3 A grades, and William Farrance with 746 points. Thirty two of the academy’s GCSE candidates did brilliantly to gain ten or more GCSE passes at A* or A.
Overall results matched our 2011 record breaking year with close to 83% of students gaining at least 5 passes at grades A*- C and over 40% reaching prized English Baccalaureate standard. 35% of all passes were at A* and A with 30% of all students gaining five or more of these top grades – an increase on previous years.
Boys and girls performed equally strongly in their exams.