Academic Year 2019/20

A level and other 16 to 18 results

This is the latest data
UK statistics authority quality mark

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer exam series was cancelled in 2020.  In addition the Department announced that it will not publish any school or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for 2020. This means that the performance tables are suspended for this year.

Students scheduled to sit GCSE and A/AS level exams in 2020 were awarded either a centre assessment grade (based on what the school or college believed the student would most likely have achieved had exams gone ahead) or their calculated grade using a model developed by Ofqual - whichever was the higher of the two.

For vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs), where centre assessment was used, it was a different process to that for A/AS levels. Centre assessment grades were often available at unit level, and many awarding organisations were able to use evidence of work already competed during the course, and use this as a basis for calculating the results they issued. For some qualifications adapted assessment meant calculation was not needed.

This data presented in this release has been adapted as a result:

  • The checking exercise was cancelled this year. This followed the Department’s announcement that 2020 exams would not be published at school or college level in accountability data, which included sharing through the checking site. This means that whilst these statistics are labelled as ‘provisional’ they will not be updated with the 'revised’ data in January following that checking/confirmation with schools and colleges.
  • Characteristic breakdowns are included that are usually published first in the January ‘revised’ release.
  • Level 3 value-added data is not being produced this year. These are normally calculated by comparing a student’s actual results to a set of expected results from a model based on national averages. The difference between a centre assessment grade (what a school or college believed the student would have got in an exam) and a result estimated by a DfE model would have very little meaning.

The cancellation of both the exam assessment and checking exercise as outlined above means the 2019/20 data should not be directly compared to attainment data from previous years for the purposes of measuring change in student performance; in other words, year on year changes might be caused by the different process for awarding qualifications in 2020 rather than reflecting a change in underlying performance.

Further details are given in the Methodology section.

Headline facts and figures - 2019/20

N.B. As described above, the process for awarding qualifications in 2019/20 differed from that in previous years.

  • All level 3 exam cohorts showed increases in APS per entry compared to 2018/19:

                    A level  (+ 5.7pts)  >>  applied general (+2.9pts)  >> tech level (+1.3pts)

 A/AS levels were awarded predominately through centre-assessment grades (what a school or college believed a student would most likely have achieved had exams gone ahead); for vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) awarding organisations were often able to use evidence of work already completed for CAGs. For other VTQ qualifications adapted assessment meant calculation was not needed at all.

  • Whilst all institution types saw an increase in the proportion of A level grades awarded at A* compared to 2018/19, the increase was largest in independent schools (circa +11ppts), compared to  state-funded schools (circa +6ppts) and both sixth form colleges and other FE sector colleges (circa +4ppts).
  • In 2019/20 both males and females were more likely to be awarded the higher A level grades (A*/A) than in 2018/19, though increases were larger for females. The impact was to reverse the small gender gap in achievement seen in 2017/18 and 2018/19, with more females than males now being awarded the top A*-A grades in 2019/20. For A*-B combined the gap between female and male achievement widened.
  • More broadly however, the different process to award grades in 2020 only modestly impacted on pre-existing attainment gaps observed for students with different personal characteristics. Gaps in APS per entry associated with disadvantage, ethnicity, SEN status, or first language neither widened nor contracted by more than 1/20th of a grade overall.
  • Regions with the highest and lowest APS per entry at A level are unchanged for the last 3 years

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