East Hampshire’s Tory MP, who took over the education brief in January, told The Herald: “The young people who have just finished their GCSEs have completed a really key stage in their education, gaining important knowledge and skills for their future success.
“My congratulations go to all the students, their families and their teachers, for what they’ve achieved.
“Back in 2011 the Government initiated a review of the curriculum and reform of public exams.
“We are seeing that coming through now in the reformed GCSEs, which better prepare students for the next step in their journey.
“But it is really important the system is fair to each year’s cohort of students, and, indeed, we have seen the pass rates and proportion of entrants getting a grade seven stay broadly constant year-on-year.
“How we educate our young people could not be more important, both for our future economic success and for the self-fulfilment of the individuals.
“The more rigorous content better prepares people for the world of work or further study, and is now on par with expectations in other countries with high performing education systems.
“Whatever they choose to do next, these qualifications will give young people a solid base that they can build on.”
GCSE pass rates rose despite the overhaul aimed at making exams more demanding. The pass level was up by 0.5 per cent to 66.9 per cent.
About four per cent got the top grade and girls continued to do better than boys – both with highest grades and in pass rates, remaining at 23.7 per cent.