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1000’s fewer college students in England awarded high A-level grades | A-levels

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1000’s of scholars in England have missed out on high marks of their A-levels as outcomes plummeted throughout the board after the federal government enforced a reversal of pandemic-era grade inflation.

The sharp fall in As and A*s got here because the schooling secretary, Gillian Keegan, was accused of “including insult to damage” for suggesting nobody could be all for pupils’ examination outcomes 10 years after the occasion anyway.

5 thousand fewer college students in England gained three A* grades than in 2022, whereas the proportion of high A*-A grades shrank from 35.9% to 26.5% inside a yr, with 67,000 fewer awarded this yr.

The proportion of A* grades awarded in England was 8.6% – a steep fall on the 14.5% awarded final yr and however nonetheless above the 7.7% awarded in 2019. The proportion of A* and A grades mixed have been additionally increased than in 2019, by 0.7 share factors.

Headteachers mentioned they have been alarmed to see that in some circumstances grading was much more stringent than the final set of A-level exams taken earlier than the pandemic, with the proportion of A*-C grades this yr decrease than these awarded in 2019 due to a pointy enhance within the variety of lowest grades.

For the primary time, multiple in 10 entries in England have been awarded an E or U (unclassified) – a ten% enhance on such grades in 2019. The rise is prone to be the results of extra college students taking A-levels based mostly on their GCSE outcomes awarded by instructor evaluation when exams have been cancelled in 2021.

England’s outcomes additionally confirmed a big hole in high grades in contrast with Wales and Northern Eire, the place regulators have taken under consideration the long-term affect of the pandemic by way of extra beneficiant grading.

Northern Eire awarded A*-A grades to 37.5% of its A-level entries, whereas Wales awarded 34% – in stark distinction to the 26.5% in England.

Graph exhibiting share of scholars reaching A or A* in 2023 and 2019

As school-leavers opened the outcomes that they had labored in direction of for 2 years, Keegan mentioned those that didn’t obtain their anticipated grades “shouldn’t be disenchanted”, including: “They received’t ask you something about your A-level grades in 10 years’ time. They may ask you about different issues you’ve completed since then, what you’ve completed within the office, what you probably did at college.

“After which, after a time frame, they don’t even ask you what you probably did at college.”

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow schooling secretary, responded that Keegan’s remarks have been “downright impolite” and that she wanted to apologise.

“It is a nerve-racking day for younger individuals who’ve labored extremely exhausting. The very last thing that they want is the secretary of state providing feedback like that.

“It actually does add insult to damage coming from a authorities that fully didn’t put in place the sort of help that our younger individuals wanted,” Phillipson mentioned.

Keegan later certified her remarks, saying: “It’s true; it’s simply actual. It’s an necessary step to get to your subsequent vacation spot, however whenever you’re a few locations additional on there’ll be different issues that they have a look at.”

Graph: proportion of scholars getting high and backside grades in 2019 and 2023

Jo Saxton, the pinnacle of Ofqual, the examination regulator for England, defended the autumn in grades, saying: “There aren’t any surprises right here and the adjustments in grading that we’re seeing are similar to the adjustments that we noticed final yr. And these outcomes are above these of 2019 so these college students have completely had the safety that they deserve, given all the pieces they went by way of.”

However Geoff Barton, the overall secretary of the Affiliation of Faculty and Faculty Leaders, mentioned this yr’s set of scholars must be happy with what they achieved. “Regardless of the rationale, nonetheless, it is going to really feel like a bruising expertise for a lot of college students, in addition to colleges and faculties which can have seen a pointy dip in high grades in comparison with the previous three years,” he mentioned.

Graph: Comparability of A and A* leads to England, Wales and Northern Eire

Ucas, the college admissions organisation, mentioned 79% of UK school-leavers certified for his or her first selection of undergraduate course beginning in autumn – barely beneath the 81% who did so final yr however increased than the 74% who bought their first selection in 2019. About 60,000 college students entered clearing within the hunt for college programs.

Jeremy Miles, Wales’s minister for schooling, mentioned there was no proof the variations in strategy between England’s grading and the remainder of the UK was creating difficulties.

Graphic: high 10 hottest topics

“What’s been taking place behind the scenes is that the examination regulators have been working carefully collectively, and with universities, so that everybody understands the approaches being taken within the 4 nations, and I don’t suppose we now have any proof that’s inflicting points,” he mentioned.

Impartial and grammar colleges had the most important drop in high grades in contrast with final yr however each obtained extra high grades than in 2019. Forty-seven per cent of entries from impartial colleges obtained A* or A grades, as did 39% of entries from grammar colleges in England.

There have been additionally sharp regional disparities. Whereas London and south-east England recorded a larger proportion of high grades in contrast with 2019, there was a fall within the north-east of England, and within the Yorkshire and Humber areas. There was an 8 share level hole between college students getting A*-A grades in south-east England and people within the north-east – wider than the 5 share level hole in 2019.

Chris Zarraga, director of Faculties North East, mentioned: “If these challenges throughout totally different phases usually are not addressed, we threat this yr’s gaps and inequalities changing into the norm.”

Chart

Arithmetic remained the preferred topic, whereas economics changed geography within the high 10, with greater than 39,000 college students taking the topic. English literature went up in reputation, after two years of declining entries, whereas computing recorded the best enhance with 16% extra entries this yr.

The second cohort taking the brand new vocational qualification, T-levels, additionally obtained their outcomes, with a 3rd of the scholars who enrolled dropping out earlier than the tip of the two-year course. Of the three,119 college students who obtained outcomes, 90% achieved no less than a cross and 22% earned a distinction or higher.

This text was amended on 18 August 2023. An earlier subheading incorrectly described Gillian Keegan because the well being secretary.

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