Top grades fall following A-Level Reforms

The number of students gaining pass grades at A-level has dropped to its lowest point in eight years amid major exam reforms. 

This is the second year that students in England have received grades in a number of reformed A-levels, which have moved away from coursework and modules to final exams after two years.


The overall A* to E pass rate in the UK of all subjects fell to 97.6 per cent, compared to 97.9 per cent last year, the national figures published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) revealed.
The proportion of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who secured the top grade of A* also dropped to 8 per cent this year – its lowest level since 2013.
However, the number of students awarded an A* or A this summer increased slightly to 26.4 per cent – the highest proportion for six years – despite the reforms.
But Michael Turner, director general of the JCQ, insisted that the overall picture shown by the results was “one of national stability during a period of significant reform”.
For the second year running, boys outperformed girls at the top grades. This year, 26.6 per cent of exam entries for boys were awarded A* or A grades, compared to 26.2 per cent for girls.
Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) are growing in popularity, with more than a third (36.2 per cent) of all A-level entries in these subjects this year.
But there have been a number of drops in entries to humanities subjects – including geography which saw an 11.3 per cent fall in entries, the lowest level in four years.
Last year, students in England took more challenging exams in 13 reformed A-level subjects. The remaining subjects are being changed over the next two years.
Commenting on the results, Geoff Barton, head of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The sheer weight of these reforms has placed an intolerable additional strain on staff and students and we have no doubt that this has affected the mental health and wellbeing of a proportion of young people and teachers.
August 2018
Creative Teaching & Learning