Yorkshire closes gap with rest of country at GCSE despite grades falling

Yorkshire schools have closed the gap on the national average at GCSE despite results falling slightly.
Yorkshire schools have closed the gap on the national average at GCSE despite results falling slightly.
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THE NUMBER of pupils in Yorkshire achieving the benchmark of five good GCSEs including English and maths has fallen for a second successive year and the region remains one of the poorest performing areas in the country.

However, the decline in grades in Yorkshire was smaller than anywhere other than the South and East of England meaning the region has narrowed the gap with the national average.

Nationally the number of pupils making the grade fell from 56.8 per cent last year to 56.3 per cent this year in state schools.

New figures published by the Department for Education show 53.8 per cent of pupils sitting GCSEs in Yorkshire this year achieved at least five A* to C grades including English and maths. This was down by 0.1 percentage point on the previous year.

In 2014 the numbers achieving the benchmark in Yorkshire had plummeted by almost six percentage points on the previous year.

At the time the decline was blamed on reforms to GCSEs including a reduction in coursework and a change in the rules which meant that only a pupil’s first attempt at an exam counted towards their league table score.

The latest figures show grades in Yorkshire have stabilised this year but the region is still one of the poorest performing areas of England. Only the East Midlands had fewer GCSE students making the grade.

There were four education authority areas in Yorkshire where fewer than half of the pupils achieved five A* to C grades, including English and maths.

However, the majority of these areas did see their results improve on last year.

In Bradford 44.6 per cent of pupils achieved it – up 0.6 per cent on the previous year.

In Hull 45.1 per cent achieved it up from 44.7 per cent in 2014.

Barnsley schools had 47.7 per cent of pupils achieving the GCSE benchmark, compared with 47.1 per cent last year.

Doncaster had 49 per cent of pupils achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths down from 49.4 per cent in 2014.

York was the strongest performer in the region for good GCSE passes. The city’s schools had 62.7 per cent making the grade, up from 62.3 per cent last year.

North Yorkshire had 61.2 per cent of pupils achieve it while in Calderdale it was 60.3 per cent.

Coun Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire’s executive member for schools, said: “These results are a testament to the very strong teaching in North Yorkshire schools, the partnership between schools, teaching school alliances and the local authority as well as the strong partnership with parents and families.”

Rotherham and the East Riding had the sharpest decline in pupils achieving five good GCSEs in Yorkshire this summer.

The new figures show 54.4 per cent achieved it in Rotherham this year compared with 57.3 per cent in 2014. In the East Riding 55.4 per cent achieved it compared with 57.8 per cent last year.

The way secondary school performance is measured is set to undergo drastic change from this year.

From this year the way schools’ performance is judged is set to change, with the amount of progress pupils achieve across eight subjects being used as the main measure, instead of the number of pupils who achieve five A* to C grades, including English and maths.

It comes amid concern that the five A* to C system was encouraging schools to focus efforts on pupils on the C/D borderline.

And from 2017 A to G grades will be replaced by the numbers nine to one in English and maths with other subjects switching to the number grade system in future years.