With thousands of young people receiving their A level results today, NAHT warns not to make like-for-like comparisons and to celebrate individual pupil successes.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT commented:
“Across all subjects, the proportion of A* and A grades has increased, but in the 13 reformed subjects, these outcomes went down. Male students also seem to be closing the attainment gap in the reformed specifications and questions must be asked about why this might be if this continues as more reformed subjects are introduced; perhaps the linear design of the new A levels is better suited to their learning style.
“2017 has been another year of change for school examinations, and we have several more years to go before the programme of reforms is complete. We’ve seen AS level entries fall dramatically because these exams no longer count towards a full A level. And in many subjects at A level, students’ grades are now entirely dependent on exams at the end of the course. Although nationally A level results appear fairly stable, at school level there will be volatility.
“The important thing, in this period of change, is that everyone with an eye on schools’ results exercises caution when comparing this year’s data with previous years. It is not a like-for-like comparison. The context of schools’ results is complex, so any direct comparisons with previous years’ results are unreliable.
“National examinations will never be able to capture all aspects of a student’s progress or all the different ways in which a school contributes to the progress that a student makes. This is why NAHT believes that it is entirely wrong to hold schools to account based on data alone.”
Useful resources from Ofqual
Interactive analytics of variability in results for schools and colleges in 2017
If you are interested in getting a better handle on how schools and colleges have performed nationally this year and to give some further context to your results, Ofqual has released interactive analytics of variability in school and college AS and A level results. The graphs allow users to explore centre variability:
- Within different subjects
- For various sizes of centres
- For stable and unstable cohorts.
Ofqual has also released a guide to results, standards and grade boundaries in the 2017 AS and A level results - this includes an infographic summarising the summer 2017 A level results.
Ofqual schools’ guide to exam boards
Ofqual has released a new guide explaining how it regulates the exam boards that provide GCSEs, AS and A levels, what schools and colleges can expect from exam boards and what exam boards, in turn, expect from schools and colleges. This includes information on appeals and reviews of marking.
The full guide can be found here.
Note that it does not cover any other qualifications which might be taken as alternatives to GCSEs, AS and A levels.
If you have any concerns regarding this year’s results, contact our advice team on 0300 30 30 333 (option 1) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2017 provisional national results
The 2017 provisional national results for A levels and AS qualifications have been published by the Joint Council for Qualifications. A few key headlines are outlined below and a more detailed summary can be found at the bottom of the page.
- This year there was a large decline in total UK entries for AS qualifications; dropping by 39.1 per cent when compared with last year. This follows a 13.7 per cent drop in 2016; mainly being driven by changes in England.
- The decline in AS entries makes year on year UK outcome comparisons unreliable and they should be made with caution.
- Entries in modern foreign languages continued to decline, with a 2.1 per cent drop in those doing French and a 4.8 per cent decrease in students sitting German
- Overall, the proportion of A* grades awarded across all subjects was up 0.2 percentage points year on year to 8.3 per cent
- However, the proportion of A*-E awards was down 0.2 percentage points to 97.9 per cent
- The 13 reformed subjects in England, which were assessed for the first time this year, showed a different pattern and outcomes are down slightly when compared to equivalent subjects in 2016
- Across the UK, 26.6 per cent of UK boys’ A level entries scored at least an A compared with 26.1 per cent of UK girls’ entries.