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‘GCSE results show much good news but there are still lessons to learn’.

Commenting after the release of this year’s GCSEs, Dr. Philip Dixon, Director of ATL Cymru, said:

‘It is good to see that students in Wales have maintained the strong performance of last year with 66.6% of them achieving the coveted A* to C grades. It is particularly gratifying to see the notable improvement in English language and science results where the numbers attaining the highest grades has notably increased. The picture in mathematics is more nuanced and we must take care to include the results of those youngsters who sat the exam in November before we grow too concerned about the apparent dip in performance at A* to C of nearly 3%.

But there are lessons to learn. Although comparing the English and Wales results is increasingly difficult it does seem as if the gap between the two countries has slightly widened this year from 1.2% to 1.4%, and the Minister was ill advised to repeatedly claim that it could evaporate this year. We should also be concerned by the apparently relentless decline in the take up of modern foreign languages, and in the fall in the numbers taking history and geography. We also need to examine the whole question of early entry and how that affects students’ future chances.

Students and teachers have worked very hard to achieve these results against a background of funding cuts and yet more new policy initiatives. They are to be commended for a job well done.’