It’s been results time of course for A’ levels, level 3 BTEC and other qualifications and that has occupied most of the headlines this week one way or another. Summary details below.
Elsewhere in education this week, the Labour Party announced it would reform the university admissions system around post-qualification admissions (PQA.) The government too has been active, reflecting on the A’ and technical education results, wishing Team GB well as it heads off to the World Skills competition and confirming the launch next week of its new Rail Saver for 16/17 year olds.
In other news, Greenwich University has attracted media headlines with its plans to tackle climate change, debate has continued about how to improve the education skills system with former DfE adviser Jon Yates listing his own starter for ten, a Conservative MP has called on the government to reinvigorate its Free Schools movement, and Teach First has rebranded.
But back to the main news of the week and those important results. Headline details have as usual been well covered in the media but what are the emerging themes? So far, four stand out.
First, this is the third in a four year programme of using the new reformed versions of A’ levels including notably this year, maths, so what impact, if any, is this having on entry trends? According to Ofqual entries overall have remained high with notable increases in sciences and computing along with Political Studies and Psychology. Maths remains the most popular subject but its entries as well as those for English subjects were all down this year, 12.3% overall for English where ASCL has called for a review. Some have blamed the more rigid GCSEs.
Second, what about the pass rate? Despite the changes this has remained the same as last year at 97.6% although that was 0.3% down on the year before but stability has been the essence.
Third, there has been some media comment about falls in the numbers of people gaining top grades. FFT Education Datalab point to the proportion of entries gaining an A or A* at 25.2% as being at ‘its lowest level for years.’ Some of this its suggested may be down to subject choices although there’s been a rise in girls’ performance at this level. Ofqual’s Paper on variability in A’ level results is also a helpful read here.
Fourth, the effects of all this on university entry are still being worked through and Clearing will continue to operate for some time but currently UCAS is reporting that a record number of 18 year olds in England, many from deprived areas, have been accepted for places through UCAS.