Thousands of teenagers await GCSE results today

THOUSANDS of East Anglian teenagers will today find out if they have made the grade as they pick up their GCSE results from the region's schools and colleges.

THOUSANDS of East Anglian teenagers will today find out if they have made the grade as they pick up their GCSE results from the region's schools and colleges.

Nervous youngsters will gather to open their envelopes and discover whether they have done enough to continue their studies or enter the world of work.

Results across England are expected to hit yet another record level as more teenagers achieve the benchmark of five A*-C grades including English and maths.

But their efforts are again being overshadowed by political rows, with one teaching union questioning the value of GCSEs - and the Liberal Democrats hitting out at the number of youngsters who do not achieve the target levels.

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Last year, a record high 59.9pc of Norfolk 16-year-olds got five good grades in any subjects - up from 56.3pc in 2007.

In the measure that really counts, the five A*-Cs including English and maths, the county improved from 45.2pc to 47.9pc - ahead of the national average of 47.6pc.

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The early signs are that there will be another leap forward although the results cannot be made public until officially released this morning.

Despite the expected improvements, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said young people were getting good grades at the expense of skills that would 'stand them in good stead to get a job'.

General secretary Mary Bousted said: 'In our exam-obsessed system students are taught to pass tests, rather than encouraged to learn skills.

'Our exam system is particularly ill-suited to helping young people develop their creativity, initiative, team-working, problem-solving and reasoning skills which they need in work and to continue in higher education. Schools and colleges find it increasingly difficult to make time in the over-packed curriculum to develop these soft skills.'

She added that the 'perpetual focus' on exams failed the 40pc of young people who did not get five A*-C grades at GCSE.

Dr Bousted said: 'They continue to be spat out of an education system which has no room to develop their skills and talents, and so completely fails to meet their needs.'

Liberal Democrat schools spokesman David Laws said the number of teenagers leaving school without five good GCSEs since Labour came to power in 1997 would pass three million today.

Since 1997, almost 2.9m pupils have finished school without five A*-C grades. Even though performance is expected to improve this year, at least 200,000 are likely to be added to the list when results come out today.

Mr Laws said: 'It is these young people, let down by Labour, who are now likely to be bearing the brunt of the recession. Ministers need to start getting the basics right early on, so no child falls behind.'

For a full round up of the results see tomorrow's Journal.

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