Wales plans new GCSE benchmark


At least six out of 10 pupils in Wales will be expected to gain five A* to C GCSEs or the equivalent under a new ambitious reform.

Setting out the detail of the plan to drive up standards, Wales’s education minister Leighton Andrews said success would be measured on the performance of students at GCSE level. 

He wants 65 per cent to gain the Level 2 threshold including in English, Welsh and maths by 2015. Currently less than 50 per cent achieve this level.

The minister said the poor rankings Wales achieved in the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2009 had been a “wake-up call”. His goal now is to ensure Wales is ranked in the top 20 countries by 2015.

The Welsh government set out a 20-point action plan to drive up standards and performance last year. And with implementation under way it has detailed its expectations of primary and secondary schools in a new report called Improving Schools. The priorities are to improve literacy and numeracy, and reduce the impact of deprivation on educational outcomes.

To make this happen the government aims to improve the quality of teaching in literacy and numeracy, with the help of national programmes, support CPD and have a greater focus on supporting students from deprived backgrounds or with additional needs. The plan looks to improve the performance management of headteachers and strengthen school governance. 

The final piece of the strategy focuses on ensuring schools work well with all their partners, from parents to the inspectorate.

Mr Andrews said: “This implementation plan sets out our ambitious reform agenda. It builds on what we have achieved already and outlines what is required of everyone in our education system to drive improvement and raise standards in the future.”


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