Teenagers across Kent receive A-level results

PUBLISHED: 09:27 17 August 2017

Teenagers receive A-level results. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire holder.

Teenagers receive A-level results. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire holder.

This year’s results mark a key step in major reforms to A-levels introduced by government

Teenagers across Kent are today receiving their long-awaited A-level results, with around one in four entries expected to receive top grades nationwide.

Boys are likely to outperform girls again in terms of A*s, with one expert suggesting that they could also close the gap with their female classmates at the A grade boundary.

Last year, a quarter (25.8 per cent) of A-level entries across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, were awarded an A* or A, compared to 25.9 per cent the year before, and 27 per cent five years ago.

Official figures show that 8.5 per cent of UK boys’ entries were given the highest result of A*, compared to 7.7% of girls’ entries, while there was just a 0.3 percentage point gap at A*-A, with girls ahead on 26 per cent.

This year’s results mark a key step in major reforms to A-levels introduced by government in recent years, including a move away from coursework and modular exams, as well as a significant decision to separate AS-levels to form standalone qualifications.

This shake-up, which applies to England only, has led to a 42 per cent drop in AS-level entries this year, and school leaders today raised concerns that the reform has “sounded the death knell” for qualifications that were traditionally popular with many students and universities alike.

A snapshot survey of around 170 heads in England conducted by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) found that around two-thirds (65 per cent) have cut the number of AS courses they offer in the wake of the government’s reforms, while 86 per cent said they expect to remove AS courses in the future.

ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton said: “It is increasingly clear that government reforms have sounded the death knell for AS-levels.

“AS-levels allowed students to study four subjects knowing they would all count towards a qualification, either an AS-level or a full A-level.

“They were intended as a way of broadening the curriculum and were valued by students, employers and universities.”

He added: “The great benefit of the old system was that it gave students a broader range of knowledge and allowed them to keep their options open for longer.

“The decision to decouple these qualifications was an entirely unnecessary reform which is narrowing the curriculum and reducing student choice.”

Meanwhile, last-minute places are set to be available at some of the UK’s top universities, with some actively recruiting students.

Figures released earlier this week show two thirds of Russell Group universities, considered among the best in the UK, were advertising courses on the Ucas clearing website.

In total, the site shows that there were around 4,700 undergraduates courses at these institutions with available places for English students prior to A-level results day, when sixth-formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland received their grades and discovered if they have secured a hoped-for spot on their chosen degree course.

Many universities are aiming to recruit students who perform better than expected in their exams and want to “trade” to a different university through the annual process known as adjustment, or those who simply want to change their course or university.

Ucas figures show that overall, around 890 applicants found places through adjustment last year, while around 50,000 were placed through the main clearing scheme.

Clearing is the annual process that matches students without places, for example those that did not meet their required grades, with available courses.

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