14 August 2014
Article by Sian Hughes, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
Image from Pixabay. Licensed under the Creative Commons.
Students in Wales, England and Northern Ireland receive their A level results today. The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ – a membership organisation comprising the seven providers of qualifications in the UK) publish summaries of the results. 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 five or more passes at GCSE.
Teaching unions ATL and ASCL have urged caution in comparing Wales exam results with others in the UK because of increasing differences in exam systems in Wales and England. Ofqual has written an open letter to schools and colleges in England stating that the removal of January AS and A level exams (announced in November 2012) may have had a significant impact on schools and colleges. This is likely to mean that results will look different from previous years, even though standards have been held steady.
The data in the tables below compare results for 2013 and 2014. This comparison is made based on the data published by JCQ on A level results day in 2013. Data is provisional and they represent the position at the time that results are issued. Data are subject to checking before final data at national (Wales), local authority and school level is published.
Provisional A level data was published on 14 August 2014. The information relates to entries and not candidates.
Comparison between 2013 and 2014
- In Wales, there has been a small decrease in the overall pass rate (by 0.1 per cent) to 97.5 per cent. In England there was also a decrease of 0.1 per cent;
- The percentage of entries achieving grades A*-C has remained the same in Wales with a decrease of 0.5 per cent in England;
- In Wales, there has been an increase in the percentage of entries achieving A*-A grades by 0.4 per cent. In England there was a decrease of 0.3 per cent;
- In Wales, and England, there were increases for the percentage of entries achieving grade A*of 0.7 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively.
Male and females
- Females continue to achieve better grades than males in both Wales and England, with the exception of the percentage achieving grade A*. At grade A* the gap between males and females has increased slightly in both Wales and England;
- In other grades, in Wales, the gap in achievement between males and females has increased since last year at grades A*-C and A*-E but the gap has lessened at grades A*-A. In England there is a similarly mixed picture with the gap at A*-A being lower, at A*-E being higher and the gap at A*-C remaining the same.
Wales and England:
- England continues to achieve better results than Wales, although comparisons with last year, particularly at higher grades, have been more favourable for Wales.
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 2013 and 2014.
Source: Joint Council for Qualifications, A, AS and AEA (Advanced Extension Award) Results Summer 2014
Source: Joint Council for Qualifications, A, AS and AEA Results Summer 2013
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.
At Advanced level:
- The number of candidates completing the Welsh Bac continues to grow.
- There was a percentage increase in candidates being awarded the Advanced Diploma from 82.7 per cent in 2013 to 87.1 per cent in 2014, an increase of 4.4 per cent;
- There was an increase in the percentage of candidates achieving the Core Certificate, from 88.4 per cent to 92.4 per cent, an increase of 4 per cent.
Source: Welsh Government Press Release