GCSE results day

25 August 2016

Article by Sian Hughes, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Photograph of examination results

Image from Flickr. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

Today students in Wales, England and Northern Ireland receive their GCSE results.  As with last week’s A level results, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ – a membership organisation of the seven largest providers of qualifications in the UK) publish summaries of the results [PDF 668KB]. The JCQ data shows the collective results of the entries of the member awarding bodies.

These results are for those learners who took examinations in June 2016. Policy changes in England, have meant there are fewer learners who enter exams earlier than the Summer. While the previous Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis expressed concerns about the increasing numbers of pupils taking their exams early, there has been no policy change on early entry in Wales.

Results

The data in the tables below compare results for 2015 and 2016.  This comparison is made based on the data published by JCQ on GCSE results day in 2015.  Data is provisional representing the position at the time that results are issued.  Data is subject to checking before final data at Wales, local authority and school level is published. The results published by the JCQ relate to ‘entries’ and not to ‘candidates’. So, for example, the data can show that performance has increased or declined at GCSE or within the grades. It cannot show whether more boys or girls achieve five or more grades A*-C at GCSE. The data relates to the outcome of the individual subject areas for all regardless of their age.

Comparison between 2015 and 2016

  • In Wales, male learners achieving grades A*-C has decreases by 0.5 percentage points while the percentage of females achieving grades A*-C increased by 0.3 percentage points. The percentage of all learners achieving A*-C remained the same as in 2015 and is now the same as in England;
  • The overall pass rate (A*-G) for females has increased by 0.2 percentage points. The overall pass rate has decreased for males by 0.1 percentage points. It remains the same as last year for all learners;
  • There has been an increase in the number of males achieving grade A* of 0.3 percentage points, with a slight decrease of 0.1 percentage points for females. There is an increase at this grade for all learners of 0.1 percentage points;
  • This year there have been increases for those achieving grades A*-A, 0.1 percentage points for males, 0.4 percentage points for females and 0.2 percentage points for all learners;
  • In England there have decreases at all grades. At grades A* there were decreases for males, females and all learners of 0.2 percentage points, 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points respectively);
  • At grades A*-C there were decreases for males of 2.4 percentage points, females of 2 percentage points and all learners of 2.2 percentage points.

Males and females

  • Girls continue to achieve better results than boys at all levels in Wales and England;
  • In Wales, the gap has decreased at grade A*but increased at all other grades.  In England, the gap increased at all grades.

Wales and England

At grades A* and A*-A, learners in England performed better than those in Wales. However, the gap in performance has narrowed since 2015. At grades A*-C, males in England achieved better results than those in Wales (by 0.2 percentage points) but females and all learners achieved the same (71 per cent and 66.6 per cent) in Wales and England. At grades A*-G, males, females and all learners in Wales performed better than those in England (by 0.4 percentage points 0.2 percentage points and 0.3 percentage points respectively).

Tables 1 and 2 show the percentage of entries in all subjects by grade for Wales and England for 2015 and 2016

GCSE

Welsh Baccalaureate

The results of the Intermediate and Foundation Baccalaureate are also published today.  At Foundation Level, 92.5 per cent per cent of candidates were awarded the Core Certificate, compared with 86.7 per cent in 2015. 90.3 per cent of candidates were awarded the Diploma compared with 85 per cent last year.

At Intermediate Level, 93.8 per cent of candidates were awarded the Core Certificate compared with 89.4 per cent in 2015 and 82.6 per cent per cent of candidates were awarded the Diploma compared with 82.2 per cent in 2015.

New Publication: Labour Market Briefing

24 August 2016

Article by Christian Tipples and David Millett National Assembly for Wales Research Service

View this post in Welsh | Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg

This briefing paper (PDF, 1,241KB) provides a statistical overview of the labour market. Information is included on Assembly constituencies, Wales and UK nations and regions.

And here’s our infographic summarising the latest labour market figures for Wales.

Unemployment-August-Eng-01

A level and Welsh Baccalaureate results

18 August 2016

Article by Sian Hughes, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Storage boxes with names of awarding bodies

Today is A level results day for students in Wales, England and Northern Ireland. The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ – a membership organisation comprising the seven providers of qualifications in the UK) publish summaries of the results [PDF 550KB]. The JCQ data shows the collective results of the entries of the member awarding bodies.  The results published by the JCQ relate to ‘entries’ and not to ‘candidates’. So, for example, the data can show that performance has increased or declined at A level or within the grades.  It cannot show whether more boys or girls achieve two or more passes at A levels.  The data relates to the outcome of the individual subject areas for all regardless of their age.

The data in the tables below compare results for 2015 and 2016. This comparison is made based on the data published by JCQ on A level results day in 2015. Data is provisional and they represent the position at the time that results are issued.  Data are subject to checking before final data at Wales, local authority and school level is published.

Provisional A level data (entries and not candidates) was published on 18 August 2016.

Comparison between 2015 and 2016

  • In Wales and England the overall pass rate has remained the same, 97.3 per cent and 98.1 per cent respectively;
  • The percentage of entries achieving grades A*-C has decreased in Wales, by 0.5 per cent to 73.8 per cent with a small increase of 0.3 per cent in England;
  • In Wales, there has been a decrease in the percentage of entries achieving A*-A grades by 0.4 per cent to 22.7 per cent. In England there was a decrease of 0.1 per cent;
  • In Wales there was a decrease in the percentage of entries achieving grade A*of 0.7 per cent to 6.6 per cent. In England, there was a decrease of 0.2 per cent.

Male and females

  • Once again, females continue to achieve better grades than males in both Wales and England, with the exception of the percentage achieving grade A*. In Wales, at grade A* the gap between males and females has decreased from 0.9 per cent to 0.2 per cent;
  • In other grades, in Wales, the gap in achievement between males and females has increased since last year at grades A*-A, A*-C and A*-E.

Wales and England     

  • England continues to achieve better results than Wales, with the gap increasing at all grades except for grades A*-E where the gap remained the same.

Tables 1 and 2 show the percentages of entries in all subjects by grade attained for Wales and England, male and female entries and for 2015 and 2016.

ALevelTable2

Welsh Baccalaureate

Summer results for the Advanced Welsh Bac are also published today. The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification is delivered at schools, colleges and training providers throughout Wales. The Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification (Welsh Bac) consists of two parts; ‘Options’ and a ‘Core Programme’. The ‘Options’ must be completed by students studying for all levels of the Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma, and are options selected from established, approved courses or programmes (for example GCSEs, Vocational GCSEs, AS/A Levels, Vocational A Levels).

The ‘Core Programme’ are personal development studies which students must complete along with their Options. To be awarded a Diploma, candidates must meet the requirements of both the Options and the Core. The Core was graded for the first time last year.

At Advanced level:

  • There was a percentage increase in candidates being awarded the Advanced Diploma from 87.3 per cent in 2015 to 89.8 per cent in 2016;
  • 94.4 per cent of candidates achieving the Core Certificate, compared with 92.2 per cent in 2015;

18.5 per cent achieved grade A* for the Core compared with 12.2 per cent last year.

Wales Bill: Second Day of Scrutiny

12 August 2016

Article by Mark Norton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Palace of Westminster

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Alvesgaspar. Licenced under the Creative Commons

MPs sat in a Committee of the whole House of Commons on the 11 July 2016 to take part in the second day of consideration of the Wales Bill. This was the second opportunity for MPs to put forward amendments to the Wales Bill. The debate focused on the reserved powers listed in the new Schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Reservations

Paul Flynn MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, set out Labour’s view that the Bill as drafted would restrict the Assembly’s legislative competence inappropriately and reverse the competence given to the Assembly under the Government of Wales 2006 Act, section 108(5) of which allows the Assembly to make “ancillary” provisions.  He said that unless the Bill was amended, the Assembly’s ability to make its legislation enforceable and effective would  be inappropriately constrained. He urged the Secretary of State to give very careful consideration to the issues and to table amendments on Report that reflect an agreed position.

Liz Saville Roberts MP said the idea of moving towards a reserved powers model has been taken to symbolise a shift in Westminster’s attitude towards the Assembly, because it was assumed to be synonymous with a maturing of relations between the two institutions. She said that rather than having to justify devolving an area of competence, Westminster would be compelled to justify reserving an area of law. She concluded:

that should have represented a significant attitudinal shift, and a recognition of greater parity. The sheer length of the list of reserved areas in schedule 1 has made a mockery of that notion.

She explained that majority of Plaid Cymru amendments sought to omit certain reservations from schedule 7A in the Bill.

The Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns MP said that some opposition amendments sought to broaden the Assembly’s competence significantly by enabling it to legislate in relation to reserved matters, so long as the provision is ancillary to a provision on a devolved matter.  He said that this would drive a “coach and horses through the key principle underpinning the new model, which is a clear boundary between what is devolved and what is reserved.”

Secretary of State’s Order making powers

Clause 51 of the Bill provides the Secretary of State with order-making powers to make consequential provision following the enactment of the Wales Bill. This includes powers to amend, repeal, revoke or otherwise modify primary or secondary legislation. Affirmative procedure in both Houses is provided for where the amendment or repeal of primary legislation is envisaged in any such order.

Paul Flynn MP noted that there was no provision for Assembly approval of a draft order that would repeal or modify Assembly legislation. Furthermore, as the Bill is drafted, the Secretary of State could propose orders making modifications to the Acts of Parliament underpinning the Welsh devolution settlement without requiring the Assembly’s consent, although parliamentary consent would be needed. He declared this wrong in principle.

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Guto Bebb MP responded that “Clause 51 is a fairly typical consequential provision” and that it ensures that the UK Government are able to tidy up the statute book where required in connection with this Bill. He said that giving the Assembly a role in approving the Secretary of State’s regulations made under this clause would be as unjustified as giving Parliament a role in approving Welsh Ministers’ regulations made under Assembly Acts.

Water and Sewerage

The Shadow Secretary of State called for the powers of intervention of the Secretary of State for Wales in respect of water to be removed from Government of Wales Act 2006.

Guto Bebb MP noted that water and sewerage devolution is complex and further work to consider the practical implications was needed. The UK Government set up a Programme Board with the Welsh Government to look at these issues. The work has concluded and the UK Government is considering the evidence.

Traffic Signs and Speed Limits

David Davies MP and other Government backbenchers spoke against the change to devolve the power for the Welsh Government to be able to change speed limits and the ability to change traffic signs in Wales. He claimed it was unnecessary and counter-productive.

Guto Bebb MP replied that the St David’s Day process agreed that responsibility for speed limits in Wales should be devolved. Powers over traffic signs, including pedestrian crossings, will also be devolved.

He explained that together, the clause and the schedule have the effect of devolving to the Assembly and Welsh Ministers legislative and executive competence in respect of substantially all the provisions of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 that concern speed limits and traffic signs.

Policing Powers

Paul Flynn MP said that the Opposition believe that a change in policing powers is desirable because the Silk Commission recommended devolution of policing in Wales. He said:

Policing is the only major front-line public service that is not at present the responsibility of the devolved institutions in Wales. That anomalous position means that it is significantly more difficult to achieve advantages of collaboration with other blue light services

The Secretary of State, however, said that the St David’s day process found no consensus to devolve the criminal justice system in Wales. He argued that crime, public order and policing are inextricably linked to the criminal justice system.

He referred to amendments tabled by Plaid Cymru, and Labour, which sought to remove the reservations for late night entertainment and alcohol licensing respectively. He said that the UK Government consider both subjects to be closely connected to policing and maintaining public order. Given that policing and criminal justice remain reserved matters, late night entertainment and alcohol licensing should also be reserved under the principle that has been established.

The Report stage of the Wales Bill will take place in the House of Commons on 12 September 2016.

Does Wales Need a Welsh Six News Programme?

10 August 2016

Article by Madelaine Phillips, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

BBCNewsroom

Image from Wikipedia by Deskana. Licensed under the Creative Commons

Does Wales Need a Welsh Six News Programme?

Last week the Westminster Culture, Media and Sport Committee published a report, “BBC White paper and Related Issues” (PDF, 346KB). This report found that the current news programming in Scotland was unsatisfactory and recommended the establishment of a Scottish 6 O’Clock News (“Scottish Six”). Since its publication there have been calls to pursue a similar model in Wales in order to address the problem of the under-representation of Welsh issues in the media. Damian Collins MP, chair of the CMS Committee has said that the Committee will consider the case for a “Welsh Six”.

The committee raised concerns about how the BBC currently reports news, with an anchor in London discussing UK and international issues followed by an anchor in Glasgow covering Scottish issues. The committee considered that:

in the post-devolution era, this can lead to network news programmes transmitted from London leading on several purely English stories—for instance on health, justice or education—which have no bearing on Scotland.

Scottish Six

The concept of a Scottish Six was offered by the Scottish Government’s policy paper on the BBC Charter Inquiry (PDF, 888KB) as one way of improving the coverage of the Scottish perspective in news in Scotland. However, the report acknowledged that this would not be sufficient to address the low satisfaction rate with the news provision within Scotland, which is just below 50%.

The BBC told the Westminster CMS committee that they acknowledged the level of dissatisfaction with the current format and were testing three options:

  • A “slightly tweaked version of the current programme”;
  • A programme which is “anchored in Scotland, with a running order of Scottish, UK and international stories based on news merit, drawing on all the BBC’s facilities and broadcast from Scotland”;
  • A hybrid with two studios in operation, with a Scottish studio and presenter introducing Scottish items with a cut back to a London based studio for UK and international news.

The CMS Committee report recommended that the second option was the most viable and that a Scottish running order could be easily accommodated within the BBC News organisation. Pilots have been produced and the intention is that the hour long programme and could replace the Six O’Clock News.

BBC representatives informed the committee that further pilots were to be recorded after the summer, and that a decision would be reached by the end of the year.

News in Wales

Since the report there have been calls that a similar proposal for Wales was also needed, considering the similar problems of under-representation of Welsh issues in the media.

Weaknesses in BBC news provision in Wales were raised during the Fourth Assembly’s Communities, Equality and Culture Committee’s Inquiry into BBC Charter Review, although the establishment of a “Welsh Six” was not explicitly discussed.

In her evidence to the Committee, former Presiding Officer Dame Rosemary Butler was critical of the BBC’s coverage of Welsh political life, stating:;

BBC often ignore Wales all together or mislead viewers by reporting policy developments in devolved areas such as health and education in England as though it applies to Wales when the government here pursues a very different direction.

The Committee’s report also highlighted the lack of plurality within the Welsh media, which means that the Welsh public are more dependent on the BBC’s news provision than are other areas of the UK

The Welsh Government also submitted a response to the UK Government’s public consultation on the BBC Charter Review, which expressed similar concerns.

Wales has limited news coverage and too few voices, leaving most people dependent on UK news outlets that lack coverage of Wales. Although there is evidence that there have been improvements in the coverage of devolved political issues in Wales since the King Report, there is still room for improvement. The news media provide insufficient or inadequate coverage of Welsh issues and events.

The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee which was formed at the beginning of the Fifth Assembly is currently considering topics for its future work programme. The potential of a Welsh Six news programme may be something the Committee wishes to consider as part of its work looking at the media in Wales.