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Volume 177: debated on Monday 23 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what target the Government has for the percentage of 16 to 18-year-olds who will have five GCSEs at grade A to C or better or equivalent (a) in the current year and (b) by 1995.

The Government's objectives are to promote a significant increase in attainments of this age group through the introduction of the national curriculum and improvements in the GCSE and other qualifications. It would not be appropriate in our view to establish quantified targets for such attainments. Such targets could imply that the Government have control over the outcome, which is not the case; and there is a risk that their promulgation could lead to adjustments in the standards demanded, so that the targets would be reached on paper. It is for pupils themselves, their teachers and schools, to strive to achieve the highest possible success rate within the context set by Government policy.