Tag Archives: Results day

Overall GCSE Grades risen, butt ay drop inn Inglish

It’s another results day! This time for those hundreds of thousands of pupils who have battled through the wonderful world of GCSEs.

As you can tell from the title, there has been quite a significant drop in the English GCSE results, however the overall number of those achieving the A*-C grades have risen on average across all subjects. So it looks like on average we’re improving, but become seemingly less literate. Slightly worrying …

Exam officials revealed that 68.8% of entries scored A*-C, up 0.7 percentage points on last summer. However, The proportion of pupils getting the top A* grade across all subjects fell slightly to 6.7%, down from 6.8% last year.

There were significant differences between the A* to C grade results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – where increasingly dissimilar versions of GCSE are being taught. Results rose in each of the three education systems.

There have been warnings of “volatility” in results following an overhaul of the exam system. Brian Lightman, head of the Association of School and College Leaders, reported “increased volatility” in the results being received by schools. A “significant minority” had not received their predicted results, he said, with schools with many disadvantaged students having been “hit the hardest”. “The volume of change has made year on year comparisons in GCSE results increasingly meaningless. It is almost apples and oranges,” said Mr Lightman.

Andrew Hall, head of the AQA exam board, said the most significant impact on this year’s results has been the big fall in younger pupils taking exams a year early. Changes in the league tables discouraged schools from such multiple entries. I am still not convinced this isn’t holding back those children who are capable of getting high quality grades a year earlier. I don’t agree with schools using this system to as a pass to get more than one attempt at these GCSEs, but if they are capable of getting an A* or an A a year early, then let them.

It is important also to remember that across the three nations of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, whilst all have the same name of GCSEs, they are in fact different courses because the reforms such as the switch to linear, non-modular courses and less coursework, have applied only to England.

The results in English seem to have been most affected, with the number of A*-C grades down 1.9 percentage points to 61.7%. This was also influenced by the removal of the “speaking and listening” element of the subject.

The CBI’s deputy director general, Katja Hall, said exam reforms have helped to increase “rigour”. But from an employer’s perspective, she said more was needed to ensure a GCSE grade was an accurate measure of “skills they can bring to the workplace”. The removal of speaking and listening from the English GCSE was “particularly concerning”, said Ms Hall. She also warned that “we cannot continue to turn a blind eye” to the question of whether there should be such an exam for 16 year olds.

There is still a significant gender gap in this year’s results, with 73.1% of girls’ exam entries achieving A* to C compared with 64.3% for boys.

Exam officials also highlighted a fall in the numbers of entries for biology, chemistry and physics, the first such decline for a decade.

Another factor that can be considered an influence has been the ability of some schools, notably free schools and academies, to hire unqualified teachers, which is something highlighted by Tristram Hunt. “It is now the case that some of the pupils who have received their grades today may have higher qualifications than the teachers who will be teaching them at the start of the next school term,” claimed Mr Hunt.

Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment at Buckingham University, warned of “shocks in store” for some schools, depending on “how much they relied on gaming the old system”.

“All of this piecemeal change to GCSE means that is incredibly difficult for schools to forecast what grades students might expect to achieve, or indeed to compare the school’s results with previous years,” said head teachers’ leader Brian Lightman. Young people are not statistics. They are individuals whose life chances depend on these results. They have worked extremely hard for these exams and been conscientiously supported by their teachers. I hope that their results do them justice.”

Chris Keates, leader of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said this year’s GCSE exam entrants had to “cope with a raft of rushed through and ill-conceived changes to the qualifications system and so today’s results are especially commendable”.

The National Union of Teachers’ leader Christine Blower said that the headline figures “mask underlying issues which will only become clear over time”. “We must ensure that changes being made to our qualifications system do not unfairly disadvantage specific groups of students, including those with special educational needs or those from backgrounds of economic disadvantage.”

As always, if you either have students receiving their results or are in fact a student receiving your results, I hope you all got the results you were striving for and will continue on to achieve your potential in whatever route you go down.


A levels – Pass rate down, more university places

Today is results day for the A level students of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the news isn’t as positive as perhaps hoped.

A-level grades have edged down this year for the first time in 30 years, and there has been a slight fall in A* and A grades.

But there are, however, a record number of university places available and students could still get places even if they miss their grades.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says the government is “lifting the cap on aspiration”.

Exam officials say the results of this year’s A-levels are broadly “stable”. But for the third successive year the A* and A grades have fallen slightly – down from 26.3% to 26%. There were also marginal falls in the proportion of entries in the A* to B grades. But the very highest A* grade has risen from 7.6% to 8.2%.

For school leavers planning to go to university, there are suggestions this could be an unusually good year to apply, with a “buyer’s market” in which universities are competing to attract students. A student contacted the BBC and said that they had achieved two C grades and a D, but had still gained a university place for which the original offer had been three grade Bs.

There are an extra 30,000 university places available and it is expected that for the first time over 500,000 places will be allocated for courses this autumn. Universities continue to have a flexibility over recruiting students who achieve AAB grades or better.

The Ucas admissions service says that so far 396,990 students have been accepted on degree courses at UK universities – up 3% compared with this point last year.

Universities Minister Greg Clark says the expansion in places is an “important source of social mobility”.

The Joint Council for Qualifications, issuing the results, said there was a trend for more students to take so-called “facilitating subjects” at A-level, such as maths and physics, which can help university applications. But there have been big falls in the take-up of subjects outside this mainstream group, such as a 47% drop in critical thinking and 24% fewer entries in general studies.

Nick Foskett, vice-chancellor of Keele University, says students will have more options than in previous years, even if they do not get their expected grades.

“More students are likely to be accepted into their first choice, even if their grades are slightly lower than universities requested,” said Prof Foskett. “Many universities that have plans for growth will be using this year to expand their numbers, so will be keen to accept students that may have been rejected in previous years.”

The Russell Group of leading universities has indicated that there will be more flexibility than usual. “Some Russell Group universities may still have places available in some subjects for students who have done better than expected,” said the group’s director general, Wendy Piatt. “There may also be places available for highly-qualified students who have narrowly missed out on their first choice.”

More universities than usual are expected to take part in the clearing process, which matches students looking for a place with any available courses.

For students doubting the accuracy of their grades, the Information Commissioner’s Office says they have a right to see how their exams were marked. This is an addition to the exam boards’ appeals process.

This year’s results will include the first A-level grades from a free school, the London Academy of Excellence.

Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said he would scrap the government’s plan to remove the link between AS and A-levels. This de-coupling of the exams would limit young people’s “opportunity to realise their full potential”, said Mr Hunt.

The CBI’s director general John Cridland said after so much concern over grade inflation “we should not beat ourselves up if grades and overall passes don’t go up each and every year”. But Mr Cridland raised concerns about the continuing decline in students taking modern languages.

Head teachers’ leader Brian Lightman said this year’s results were a “real good news story”. “It shows how hard students and teachers have worked in the face of changes to exams to achieve results that are as high as ever.”

Ok so let’s take a quick summary of all this: results are down in significant places, yet because of all these extra university places, more and more are still going to university despite not necessarily achieving their grades. For me personally this smells of a slight mockery of the grade requirements if several people are getting into university having not achieved the grades. It reminds me of this Labour drive that everyone must go to university which is what gives birth to so-called ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees just to get people in, when perhaps university isn’t the destined place for these people.

Well it’s safe to say on a national scale, a rather mixed bag of news for A levels. I hope, however, that the vast majority of people who were aiming for the top grades got them, and I wish those who are going to university the very best of luck in whatever degree you are going into. Best advice I can give you as someone who will not long be out of uni: Work hard, get a core group of friends around you as early as possible, and make every possible use necessary of the support network there!

A level results produced slight dip in top grades

A level results day is here! I hope those who are getting their results today are have met their targets or bettered them, and I hope you’re pleased with your results 🙂

Figures show, however, that there has been a fall in the proportion of A-levels awarded top grades for the second year in a row, after years of steady increases.

Just over a quarter of exam entries – 26.3% – were given A or A* grades, a slight fall on 2012’s figure of 26.6%. Previously, the proportion getting top grades had risen year on year.

More than 300,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are finding out their A-level results, as universities compete to attract them.

The national breakdown of results shows the overall pass rate rose marginally – to 98.1%. It has been rising for about 30 years.

As expected, the results show more students are opting to do A-levels in maths and science and there is a continued fall in those taking French and German, down by 10% and 11% respectively. However, Spanish bucks that trend and has seen an increase in entries of 4%. For some people I guess this may be disappointing, but with holidays and other industries becoming more expensive, it could be said that there is less reason to want learn other languages.

Economics was the subject that saw the biggest rise in entries – up 7.4%. Chemistry rose by 5.2% and physics by 3.1%. Maths rose by just under 3% and further maths by 4.5%.

While I don’t believe in comparing the genders, there are some statistics published making these comparisons as well.

Girls are still more likely than boys to get an A* or an A, but boys this year were slightly more likely to get the highest grade – A*. A total of 7.9% of boys’ entries got an A*, compared with 7.4% of those of girls.

When As and A*s are grouped together, girls perform best – with 26.7% of their entries hitting this mark, compared with 25.9% for those of boys.

I suppose from all this the government shouldn’t be too downhearted about all this. While it’s fair to say that the percentage of those getting top grades has fallen, it’s not a drastic drop and it could be coined a ‘minor fluctuation’. What the government will most likely be disappointed in is the downward decline of MFL subjects being taken at A level, with the exception of Spanish. It’s nice to see the sciences and maths reporting an increase, particularly if we can persuade students taking those into teaching it, which will certainly help plug the gap in the supposed shortfall of teachers of these subjects.

But what does this all mean for our universities? Well despite the drop, university admissions body UCAS has said the numbers being accepted by UK universities has hit a record high. As of midnight, 385,910 students had been accepted, 31,600 more than at the same point last year and a rise of 9%. Unsurprisingly the government, in particular Universities Minister David Willetts, are trying to take the credit for this by claiming that their reforms were responsible for this increase, although this is just an election ploy to justify their existence in my opinion.

Across the UK, teenagers in Northern Ireland continue to do best – with 83.5% of entries scoring between an A* and a C and 30.7% getting an A or A*. In Wales, the figures are 75.2% and 22.9% respectively and in England, they are 77% and 26.3%. This means that you could say we’ve slightly outperformed Wales but seem to be lagging behind Northern Ireland, who have been relatively consistent over the past few years.

Of course there is one thing we all are probably aware of. From 2015 the government plans to change A-levels so that the AS-level will no longer count towards the final A-level grade and all exams will be taken at the end of two years. This dangerous ploy could make or break our education system so who knows what can be expected come 2017 when the first results come out. Nervous times if you ask me.