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Ofqual blog on the 2017 entry data: things to look out for

On 15 June, Ofqual published a report showing the provisional entries for GCSE, AS and A levels in England this summer. A summary of the data can be found here

Alongside this, Ofqual also released a blog on 2017 entry data and the things to look out for.

2017 entry data: things to look out for

This summer there are some significant changes to the entry patterns in some subjects, reflecting changes to the qualifications as well as wider policy changes. In many cases, that means we should be cautious in August when comparing overall results in 2016 and 2017.

A summary of some of the key changes highlighted by Ofqual, and what they might mean for results headlines in August are outlined below. The full blog can be found here.

GCSE English language (9 to 1 and A* to G)

Overall entries for GCSE English and English language are up but entry is split between the new 9 to 1 qualifications and the outgoing A* to G qualifications (available only for post-16 students). There are more year 11 students taking GCSE English language this year, now that international GCSEs in this subject no longer count in school accountability measures.

GCSE English literature (9 to 1)

Overall entries are up, most likely due to accountability measures. As a result, it is likely that there are schools who are now entering all their year 11 students for English literature, whereas previously they only entered their higher ability students. These changes have implications for national results in August.

Schools that have changed their entry approach (for example by entering all year 11 students this year for English literature) are likely to see more variation in their year-on-year results, because they won't be comparing like with like.

If the 2017 students have higher prior attainment than 2016 students, then results will be higher, whereas if the 2017 students have lower prior attainment than in 2016, results will be lower. If, as we expect, the increase in entry for English literature means that more lower ability students are taking English literature this summer, then we would expect overall results to be lower.

In general, Ofqual still expect a student who would have got at least a C in last year's exams to get at least a 4 this year.

GCSE mathematics

The entry is relatively stable (up by 1%) and so Ofqual expect results in August for 16-year-olds to be similar to those in 2016.

AS level

Entries in 2016 dropped by 14% and this year they have fallen by a further 42%, as more of the available AS qualifications are 'de-coupled' and therefore AS results no longer count towards A level grades. AS entries are now lower than A level entries overall. These large changes could mean that overall results in August for AS are very different from previous years as the nature of the cohort taking the exams may have changed.

A Level

Given the stability in entries, Ofqual expects that results will be generally stable, although individual schools and colleges may see greater year-on-year variability in the reformed subjects, as they get used to the changes.