Girls' GCSE grades predicted to be 'a long way ahead' of boys

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Girls are expected to maintain their dominance over boys across the vast majority of subjects when the annual GCSE results are released on Thursday.

It is the final time students will be graded in the traditional manner ahead of Government reforms and Professor Alan Smithers, director of Buckingham University's Centre for Education and Employment Research, has carried out an annual analysis of predicted grades.

He said: "The results this year will be very close to what they were last year, but the increase in people repeating maths and English could lower the top grades slightly because these candidates are more likely to be aiming for a C.

"Girls are a long way ahead of boys, doing better in 47 of the 49 subjects and being over 15 percentage points ahead in English."

Last year's results showed 73.1% of female students were awarded at least a C grade - generally considered to be a "good" pass - compared with just 64.7% of their male counterparts.

A higher percentage of female students received the very top grade, with 8% scoring an A* compared with 5.2% of male students - a gap of 2.8 percentage points, with further gaps of 7.2 percentage points at A*-A grade, and widening to 8.4 percentage points at A*-C.

Thursday's results include the largest-ever volume of students resitting English and maths - a 26% increase on last year. The rise comes after stipulations were brought in under the coalition Government that ruled teenagers in England who do not score at least a C grade in both subjects at the age of 16 must continue to study them for a further two years, or until they reach this level.

Professor Smithers said preliminary figures for GCSE entries this year show computing, the sciences, history, geography, Spanish and other modern languages such as Polish and Urdu are on the increase. He said this was due to schools responding to new accountability measures - including comparing pupils against national averages linked to similarly performing students at the end of primary school education - being used for the first time this year.

Entries for French and German have more than halved since 2000. Citizenship studies, performing arts, media studies, leisure and tourism, and hospitality - all subjects which had a lower-than-average chance of an A*-C grade last year - have also experienced a downturn in entries in 2016.

This is the last year in which GCSE results, introduced nearly 30 years ago, will be scored with grades A* to G.

From next summer, pupils will take reformed courses in English language, English literature and maths. These subjects will be marked numerically - from nine for the top-performing students down to one for those who have struggled.

The changes will be rolled out across a further 17 subjects by summer 2018.