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Private schools got biggest top A-levels boost after grade U-turn



Private schools still saw the biggest boost in top grades at A-level following this year’s exams fiasco, despite the decision to issue centre-assessment grades.

The Department for Education has published analysis of A-level grades issued this summer, following the decision to let school-provided grades stand if they were higher than calculated grades issued by exam boards.

One of the most controversial issues with the calculated grades, which were issued to pupils on A-level results days but then withdrawn days later following a U-turn, was that private schools had seen the biggest increase in the proportion of pupils achieving A and A* grades.

But today’s data shows that even after centre-assessment grades were issued, private schools still saw the biggest rise in top grades when compared to results last year.

This year, 60.9 per cent of grades issued to pupils in independent schools were an A* or an A, up 16.6 percentage points on last year, when 44.3 per cent were top grades.

The proportion of top grades issued in state schools only increased by 12.7 percentage points, from 23 per cent in 2019 to 35.7 per cent this year.

Private schools also saw a much bigger increase in the proportion of A* grades, up 11 percentage points, compared to a 6 percentage point rise in state schools.

The decision to issue centre-assessment grades mean that results overall were inflated this year compared to last.

Today’s data shows the average point score per A-level entry was 39.51, up from 33.77 last year.

 



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5 Comments

  1. I’m a bit puzzled…

    For independent schools, in 2019, 44.3% were awarded A* and A; in 2020, 60.8%. 60.8% is an increase over 44.3% of 16.5 percentage points, but a relative increase of (60.8 – 44.3)/44.3 = 37.2%.

    For state schools, in 2019, 35.7% were awarded A* and A; in 2020, 23.0%. 35.7% is an increase over 23.0% of 12.7 percentage points, but a relative increase of (35.7 – 23.0)/23.0 = 55.2%.

    Which sector did “better”?

  2. My apologies!!! There is an error in my previous comment, which I correct here:

    For independent schools, in 2019, 44.3% were awarded A* and A; in 2020, 60.8%. 60.8% is an increase over 44.3% of 16.5 percentage points, but a relative increase of (60.8 – 44.3)/44.3 = 37.2%.

    For state schools, in 2019, 23.0% were awarded A* and A; in 2020, 35.7%. 35.7% is an increase over 23.0% of 12.7 percentage points, but a relative increase of (35.7 – 23.0)/23.0 = 55.2%.

    I should not, of course, have made that mistake, so please accept my apologies. But my question still stands: which sector did “better”?

    • Mark Watson

      Good question Dennis. The problem is that presenting the figures in that way doesn’t support Schools Week’s agenda. It’s a shame really that trying to find another stick to beat private schools trumps celebrating the successes of the maintained sector but hey ho.

  3. And some other numbers too, based on the actual source documents…

    For the independent schools, about 45,500 students were awarded A* or A in 2019, and about 60,000 in 2020. So that’s an increase of about 14,500 students, around 32% (= 14,500/45,500 x 100).

    For state schools, about 109,000 students were awarded A* or A in 2019, and about 169,000 in 2020. That’s an increase of about 60,000 students, around 55% (= 60,000/109.000 x 100).

    The ‘extra’ number of state school students getting high grades (60,000) is more than four times greater than the ‘extra’ number of independent school students (14,500).

    Once again, which sector did “better’?