16 August 2018
Learners in Wales, England and Northern Ireland will receive their A level results today. Each year, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ – a membership organisation comprising the seven largest 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 data below is based on this information.
Differences and similarities in Wales and England
Since the publication of the Review of Qualifications (2012), reformed A and AS levels have been introduced in Wales. There have also been reforms in England and Northern Ireland. Last year, results for reformed A levels in fourteen subjects were awarded for the first time. This year, there are a further ten new A levels.
In Wales, the subject content of A levels is broadly similar to those in England, but there is a Welsh perspective where appropriate. In Wales, A levels retain practical or non-examination assessments where they are assessing an important part of the subject, with these assessments contributing towards the final grade. In England, assessment in the reformed qualifications is mainly by exam taken at the end of the course. Also, in Wales, the AS level contributes 40 per cent to the full A level but in England, AS results do not count towards an A level.
Further information can be seen on the Qualifications Wales website, who have also published an overview of today’s results. Qualifications Wales also wrote a guest blog on the 2018 summer examination series that can be seen here.
A level Results
The JCQ states that comparisons between year-on-year outcomes are made more difficult during times of reform. They point out that the precise reasons for changes in centre and candidate entry behaviour may not be immediately clear. Even in cases where entry numbers look similar it is not necessarily the case that a similar cohort is taking a subject.
The results tables published by JCQ are provisional and are a snapshot of outcomes taken shortly before results are released. Results are updated after this point to include changes such as reviews of marking, although it is not anticipated that there will be significant changes to outcomes.
The data in the tables below compare results for 2017 and 2018. This comparison is made based on the data published by JCQ on A level results day in 2017. Data is provisional representing 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.
Comparison between 2017 and 2018
- In Wales, the total number of entries has decreased by 849 since 2017;
- In Wales, there have been small increases in the percentage of those achieving grades A*. Females increased by 0.3 percentage points, males by 0.5 percentage points and all learners by 0.4 percentage points;
- There have been increases in the percentage of those achieving grades A*-A: 1.5 percentage points for males, 1.1 percentage points for females and 1.3 percentage points for all learners;
- Male and female learners achieving grades A*-C has increased by 1 percentage point;
- The overall pass rate (A*-E) for females has decreased by 0.2 percentage points. The overall pass rate has increased for males decreased by 0.3 percentage points and all learners by 0.3 percentage points.
Males and females
As in 2017, in Wales, in the higher grades (A* and A*-A), males have performed better than females. However, in grades A*-C and A*-E, females have performed better than males. The same is true in England.
Wales and England
- The achievement of males and females in Wales at grade A* was slightly better than those in England (by 0.9 and 0.5 percentage points respectively).
- At grades A*-A, males in Wales achieved slightly better grades than in England (0.2 percentage points), whereas the achievement of females in Wales and England was the same at this grade.
- At grades A*-C, Wales females performed slightly better than those in England, by 0.3 percentage points. Males in England achieved higher at this grade than in Wales, by 1.5 percentage points.
- At grades A*-E females in Wales and England had the same results, while males in England achieved better than those in Wales, by 0.4 percentage points.
Tables 1 and 2 show the percentage of entries in all subjects by grade for Wales and England for 2017 and 2018.
The results of the Welsh Baccalaureate (Welsh Bacc) are also published today.
The Welsh Bacc is made up of a new Skills Challenge Certificate and supporting qualifications. The Skills Challenge Certificate assesses skills for further study and employment and comprises four components. Learners need to complete four assessments as part of the Skills Challenge Certificate:
- An Individual Project;
- Enterprise and Employability Challenge;
- Global Citizenship Challenge;
- Community Challenge.
To be awarded the Welsh Bacc, students must achieve the Skills Challenge Certificate and supporting qualifications like A levels or vocational qualifications. The Skills Challenge Certificate can be awarded to a student as a qualification even if a student does not achieve the necessary supporting qualifications to be awarded the Welsh Bacc. The Skills Challenge Certificate is equal to an A level in size and demand and is graded the same way and carries the same UCAS tariff points.
2017 was the first year that the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate was awarded.
- 97.7 per cent of candidates achieved the Skills Challenge Certificate an increase of 3.7 percentage points from 2017;
- 80.9 per cent of candidates passed the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate an increase of 2,2 percentage points from 2017.
The Children, Young People and Education Committee is conducting an inquiry into the revised Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification. You can see more about the inquiry and the Committee’s consultation here.
Article by Sian Hughes, National Assembly for Wales Research Service