Schools face closure as strict GCSE targets are introduced

Aug 23, 2012

Exam results out today, but efforts to curb grade inflation could affect pass rates

MORE than 650,000 pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their GCSE results today amid fears that some schools could be closed down if they fail to meet tough new grades targets.
This year schools are have been told that 40 per cent of pupils must gain at least five good GCSE passes, meaning grades A* to C, in subjects including English and maths. Last year the target was 35 per cent.
The Daily Telegraph reports: "Experts fear that as many as 250 schools will fail to hit the benchmark as a series of reforms to GCSEs imposed over the past few years leads to overall pass rates flatlining."
Those that fail to make the grade face being closed down or taken out of local authority control and turned into academies. Last summer 107 institutions fell below the "floor standard".
While schools are expected to meet more exacting targets they must do so against a tougher marking regime. Since GCSE exams were first sat in 1988, the proportion of entrants awarded top grades has jumped annually, but this year steps have been taken to stop the trend.
The Guardian states: "Schools across the country are reporting that students who sat GCSEs in English have been harshly marked down as the government's exams regulator, backed by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, seeks to curb grade inflation."
The paper says students who were close to achieving B grades could now end up with a D. "The results will be devastating for pupils who were expecting good grades and could trigger a loss of confidence in the exam system as students question their results when they receive them on Thursday," it adds.
And there was more bad news for the 650,000+ pupils who get their grades today. A report from the Federation of Small Businesses said that eight out of ten firms that employ school leavers do not think they are ready for the world of work and raised concerns over literacy and numeracy standards.

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