Standards in secondary schools have risen dramatically. 2007 data are not yet available but in 2006 58.5 per cent. of pupils achieved five good GCSEs—an increase of 13.4 percentage points since 1997. Over 86,000 more pupils achieved five good GCSEs last year compared with 1997 and 62,000 more achieved five good GCSEs including English and maths compared with 1997. We are on track to meet the 2008 target of 60 per cent. of pupils achieving five good GCSEs and we expect that healthy trajectory to continue.
Targets are an essential part of the Government’s commitment to raising educational standards. The existing set of public service agreement (PSA) targets linked to raising attainment covers the period up to 2008. We expect to be announcing shortly a new set of PSA targets for the spending review period up to 2011.