Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

GCSEs are an important step in a young person’s education – whether to further academic study, vocational education or into the workplace and training.

We welcome the fact that 53.1 per cent of pupils are achieving five A*-C grades including maths and English. Our concern remains, however, that just under half are leaving compulsory education without a broad range of good GCSEs – over a quarter of a million young people.

We need to narrow this historic and entrenched attainment gap, especially between those from the poorest and wealthiest backgrounds. It is a waste of talent that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are continuing to miss out on universities and jobs just because of the accidents of their birth.

That is why the Coalition Government has protected the school budget, and is committed to driving ahead our reform agenda, giving schools more freedom and professional autonomy; raising standards of behaviour in schools; creating a strong core curriculum which gives children the knowledge they need to think for themselves and allows teachers to inspire their pupils; raising the prestige of teaching and introducing the Pupil Premium to give support to the most disadvantaged children in the country.

On academies

Mr Gibb commented:

As today’s figures show, academies have made exceptional progress, continuing to outstrip national improvement rates in GCSEs including English and maths – often in areas where standards have previously been too low.

It is because of the continued success of academies in some of the most challenging areas of the country, together with our determination to tackle inequality in education, that we want to see academy freedoms used more widely. These freedoms will help drive up standards, with the heads of outstanding schools working in partnership with weaker schools to help the poorest children, along with allowing great new schools to be set up by teachers, parents and charities.

We are committed to expanding the number of academies as we need to do more to raise expectations and help ensure that all children, regardless of their backgrounds, can excel.

On A Levels

Mr Gibb added:

A Levels are an important milestone in life and open up great opportunities for academic study in higher education and for future careers. They are a crucial measure of academic achievement and so we will work with universities and employers to ensure that these qualifications continue to meet their needs in the future.

Further information

1. The Statistical First Release for GCSE and Equivalent Results is available from the Department's research and statistics gateway.

2. The headline provisional 2009/10 GCSE figures show:

  • overall, 53.1 per cent of pupils achieved five or more GCSEs at grade A*-C including English and maths – an increase of 3.3 ppts from 2008/09
  • 54.8 per cent of pupils in the maintained sector achieved five or more GCSEs at grade A*-C including English and maths – an increase of 4.1 percentage points (ppts) from 2008/09
  • 42.3 per cent of pupils in academies with provisional results in 2008/09 and 2009/10 (excluding former CTCs and independents) gained five or more GCSEs at grade A*-C including English and maths – an increase of 7.4 ppts from 2008/09
  • it means around 260,000 pupils are still not achieving five A*-C grades including English and maths in maintained schools, rising to 300,000 pupils in total in all schools
  • overall, 74.8 per cent of pupils overall achieved five GCSEs at grade A*-C. This is an increase of 4.8 ppts from 2008/09
  • 92.6 per cent achieved five or more grades A*-G at GCSE or equivalent including English and maths – an increase of 0.3 ppts on 2008/09
  • 99 per cent achieved any passes at GCSE or equivalent – an increase of 0.1 ppt from 2009
  • the proportion of pupils achieving 2 A*-C grades in science has improved by 6.3 ppts to 59.9 per cent
  • 31.5 per cent achieved an A*-C grade in a modern foreign language – a 0.2 ppt fall from 2008/09.

3. The Statistical First Release for GCE / Applied GCE A/AS and Equivalent Examination Results in England 2009/10 (Provisional) is also available at the Department's research and statistics gateway.