Headlines: November 21st, 2001

The government’s target of half of all 15 year olds to achieve five or more top grade GCSE passes has been reached one year ahead of schedule. Statistics show that 50 per cent of 15-year-olds gained at least five passes at A – C this year, compared to 49.2 per cent last year and 45.1 per cent in 1997. The target was for 50 per cent of 15-year-olds to achieve five A-C grade by 2002.The general secretary of the teachers union, NASUWT, congratulated students and teachers and said: “This must indicate to the government that there is no urgent need to think about further reforms, as the GCSE system is working well.”

Last month the Department for Education and Skills published statistics that showed GCSE results as still below the 50% target. At this stage the data that had not been checked by schools and colleges. The checking revealed that corrections, late awards and results of appeals had been omitted. This is the second instance within a week where government statisticians have had to issue corrected figures. Home Office figures for anti social behaviour orders were under estimated by two thirds and the error was only revealed following a check of magistrates court records. The orders are a community based civil order similar to an injunction, which can be applied for by police or the local authority against anyone who is at least 10 years old. They are designed to be preventive, and are intended to be used to put an end to serious anti-social behaviour.