GCSEs: A* to C pass rate increases after dip in 2018

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Ellis Batten from Mary Immaculate Catholic High School, Cardiff, is going to sixth form

GCSE performance across Wales has improved on last year, with 62.8% of pupils getting A*-C grades.

The results show the number of pupils receiving good GCSE grades rose 1.2 percentage points compared with 2018.

It means results are the same level as 2017, but it is still one of the lowest performances of the past 10 years.

Those getting A-A* grades dropped 0.1 percentage point to 18.4% while the proportion achieving an A*-G is up 0.8 percentage points to 97.2%.

Girls achieved a A*-C pass rate of 67.6% compared to 57.8% for boys and the proportion who achieved an A* or A was 22% for girls compared with 14.6% for boys.

Qualifications Wales said the number of GCSEs sat in Wales this year rose from 271,761 to 295,690, and national overall results were stable.

In 2018, the A* to C pass rate dropped to its lowest point since 2005.

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Eva Sutton achieved 10A* and 2A at Ysgol John Bright, Llandudno

On a visit to King Henry VIII School in Abergavenny, Education Minister Kirsty Williams welcome the improvement.

She said: “I would like to congratulate all learners receiving their results today and to thank the teachers who have worked so hard to deliver these new qualifications.”

What’s new in 2019?

This year marks the end of a process that has seen 29 new GCSE qualifications introduced since 2015.

Business, computer science, design and technology, history, media studies, religious studies and Welsh second language were the seven final subjects to be reformed and the first set of results of these subjects have been given out for the first time.

The new Welsh second language qualification – compulsory for pupils at English-speaking schools – replaced the previous options, under which students chose to take the full course or the less-challenging short course or applied GCSEs.

It has no coursework, with a greater focus on speaking and listening skills, including the ability to respond spontaneously to conversation.

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Aedan Jones, Anest Edwards and Iwan Evans (l-r) from Ysgol Eifionydd in Porthmadog were happy with their results

Why are entries up?

A 0.7% increase in population in this age range is thought to be the cause, while it is also thought the rise in summer entries has been driven by a change this year to how schools are measured.

Previously, pupils could take an exam more than once and the best result would be counted towards the school’s overall figures.

Now, only a student’s first sitting can be counted, meaning fewer students have entered the exam early and Year 11 summer entries for many subjects has risen.

Can we compare results with the rest of the UK?

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How grades in Wales and England roughly translate

Comparing Wales with the rest of the UK is becoming increasingly difficult – while Wales has retained the A*-G structure, England has adopted a 9-1 system.

Meanwhile, a new C* grade is being introduced in Northern Ireland for the first time this summer.

Scotland has its own system of public examinations – Nationals and Highers – and pupils received their results at the beginning of August.

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