David Laws on the latest GCSE results

From The Guardian:

Fewer than half of teenagers left school with five good GCSEs including English and maths this summer, official figures revealed yesterday.

Some 47% of 16-year-olds across England achieved the basic target grades. The government said it was a 0.9 percentage point improvement on last year – and an 11.6-point increase since 1997 – but opposition MPs criticised the lack of progress in closing the achievement gap between rich and poor…

The GCSE results showed record rises in London, where 49.8% of pupils hit the target, beating the national average. The government claimed it as a success for the London Challenge programme, which offers tailored support to struggling schools, and the academy programme, which is most concentrated in the capital.

Improvement rates in academies continued to outstrip the national average with a rise of 2.9 percentage points in the proportion getting five good GCSEs, including English and maths, to 28.1%. This still leaves the average of academies below the government target of 30% that marks schools out for possible closure.

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: “It’s completely unacceptable that so many children are still not getting a good basic set of qualifications.

“These figures highlight the appalling fact that half of all children in English schools are still failing to get five good GCSEs including English and maths.”

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