Commenting on the GCSE results, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“Congratulations must go out today to all the young people and teachers who have worked hard to achieve exam success.

“These results show that GCSEs remain rigorous and robust examinations, confounding those who wish to claim that they are a ‘dumbed-down’ and debased qualification.

“It is evident that this year’s results have been achieved against a background of an increasing amount of turbulence and uncertainty in the examinations system, much of which has been deliberately generated by the Coalition Government in an attempt to justify its programme of ideological education reforms.

“It is clear that the slight decline in the overall pass rate is, to a large extent, due to schools entering candidates early for GCSEs.

“This pattern appears to be driven by the high-stakes accountability regime, which is not only putting schools under an increasing amount of pressure and damaging their ability to focus on the best interests of learners, but is also now leading to increasing pressure on young people themselves.

“Rather than whipping up a false hysteria about falling standards and ‘easy’ qualifications to justify his ideological reforms, the Secretary of State should be focusing on the wealth of evidence highlighting the need to review the high-stakes, punitive inspection regime and the performance league tables, which are preventing schools from focusing on the teaching and learning of young people.”

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