OVERALL GCSE pass rates fell across South Tyneside due to the new way in which exams are marked.
The biggest change this year was the return to linear exams – with pupils sitting their tests in the summer at the end of the two-year course.
Students have no longer had the option to take exams at several points during their courses because so-called ‘modularised GCSEs’ have been scrapped.
Also the results of the speaking and listening part of the English/English Language exam now no longer count towards the final grade.
In the past this part of the qualification has been assessed by teachers, and there were claims in 2012 of a high degree of inconsistency in the way teachers in different schools marked the assessments.
Written exams now count for 60 per cent of the English GCSE while controlled assessments count for 40 per cent. It used to be the other way round.
Changes to the way GCSE results are measured in league tables have also discouraged schools from entering children early for their exams.
But with only the first attempt at the exam now counting for school accountability measures, there has been a huge drop-off in early entrants.
This does, however, explain the increase in five A* to C pass rates, including English and maths, for many schools, as only more able Year 11 students sat the exams.