- All files (zip, 2 Mb)
- A level grades by student characteristics (csv, 17 Kb)
- Aggregated attainment by characteristic (csv, 26 Kb)
- Aggregated attainment by local authority and gender (csv, 636 Kb)
- Aggregated attainment by rurality (csv, 29 Kb)
- Aggregated attainment by school type and gender (csv, 37 Kb)
- English and maths progress - summary time series (csv, 799 B)
- English and maths progress by institution type and gender (csv, 40 Kb)
- English and maths progress by prior attainment (English historical data) (csv, 28 Kb)
- English and maths progress by prior attainment (English) (csv, 18 Kb)
- English and maths progress by prior attainment (maths historical data) (csv, 37 Kb)
- English and maths progress by prior attainment (maths) (csv, 24 Kb)
- English and maths progress by student characteristics (csv, 25 Kb)
- English and maths progress by years of study (csv, 1 Kb)
- English and Maths Progress Measure Qualifications - 201920 (xlsx, 335 Kb)
- English and Maths Progress Measure Qualifications - 201920 metadata (csv, 977 Kb)
- Exam results Applied general by gender (csv, 31 Kb)
- Exam results Below L3 English (csv, 18 Kb)
- Exam results Below L3 Maths (csv, 18 Kb)
- Exam results Tech level by gender (csv, 33 Kb)
- Exam results Technical certificates by gender (csv, 34 Kb)
- Headlines (csv, 195 B)
- ks5 transition matrices (csv, 967 Kb)
- ks5 transition matrices notes (docx, 34 Kb)
- Level 3 maths attainment (csv, 17 Kb)
- Local authority lowest 5 APS (csv, 3 Kb)
- Local authority top 5 by cohort (csv, 3 Kb)
- Maths and science entries by subject combinations (csv, 56 Kb)
- Maths and science percent entered by region and LA (csv, 198 Kb)
- Maths and science time series of entries (csv, 4 Kb)
- National A level entries and results by institution and gender (csv, 22 Kb)
- National A level entries and results by subject and gender (csv, 67 Kb)
- National A level entries by subject (csv, 1 Mb)
- National A level entries for maths and science (csv, 311 Kb)
- National A level exam results and entries by gender and STEM subject (csv, 2 Kb)
- National applied general student counts by subject (csv, 30 Kb)
- National AS level entries and results by subject and gender (csv, 60 Kb)
- National student counts by exam cohort (csv, 1 Kb)
- National technical certificate student counts by subject (csv, 34 Kb)
- National technical level student counts by subject (csv, 33 Kb)
- Regional A level entries by subject (csv, 6 Mb)
- Regional A level entries for maths and science (csv, 1 Mb)
- Vocational and technical qualifications (csv, 941 B)
Create your own tables online
Explore our range of data and build your own tables from it.
A level and other 16 to 18 results
- Receive updates
- Sign up for email alerts
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
The purpose of this statistical release is to maintain the continuity of information. The A level and other 16 to 18 grades awarded to students in 2020 will remain with them as they stay on in higher education or enter employment after leaving school or college. It is important to maintain transparency by presenting the national level data for this cohort of students whilst recognising the extraordinary circumstances in which qualifications were awarded this summer. The cancellation of exams and the substantially changed method for awarding grades has impacted greatly on the results. Comparisons with earlier years will not be indicative of underlying changes in student performance.
This statistical release includes results for 16 to 18 year olds in England who reached the end of their 16 to 18 study in 2019/20. Students typically spend either two or three years in the 16 to 18 phase, and attainment includes results from qualifications entered during all those years of study.
Qualifications in scope are those approved for reporting in 2020 school and college performance tables, and set out in the 16 to 18 qualifications, discount codes and point scores guidance.
Qualifications are grouped into A level (subset of Academic), Applied General, and Tech Level exam cohorts at level 3, and Technical Certificates at level 2. Students can be reported in more than one exam cohort.
Normally school and college performance tables data would be updated in January 2021 with data for the 2020 cohort of students reported in this release. This will not happen this year. As part of the response to COVID-19 the Government announced in March 2020 that it will not publish any individual school or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for 2020.
Student numbers by cohort
The fall in the number of level 3 students for this year mirrors the fall in the number of students at the end of 16 to 18 study. There was a disproportionately large decrease in the A level cohort, with more students entering level 3 vocational and technical qualifications.
These changes do not reflect students switching from A levels to vocational and technical qualifications (though note students can appear in multiple cohorts, where they have entered a qualification of that type).
The fall in the A level cohort (which will include AS levels not discounted by an A level) is partly due to fewer AS level entries following the reform to A levels, and the decoupling of A and AS levels. The increases in the number of students entering vocational and technical qualifications is discussed in the section ‘Entries in reformed vocational and technical qualifications’ but in general these changes in student numbers reflect how schools and colleges have reacted to reforms to level 3 qualifications in 2017/18 and technical certificates in 2018/19, along with the corresponding changes in the list of qualifications eligible for inclusion in performance tables.
In typical years, average point score (APS) per entry is based on exams entered by students throughout their 16 to 18 study; although this year it can reflect other forms of assessment, as previously described. While the majority of results come from the student's final year of study (in particular for A levels), some reflect exams entered in previous years.
The calculation of APS per entry involves converting grades to a consistent points scale. For example, a qualification graded A/B/C/D/E may need to be combined with another graded on a Distinction / Merit / Pass scale. The APS per entry point scales for the exam cohorts reported are:
|A level/academic||0 - 60|
|Applied general||0 - 50|
|Tech level||0 - 50|
|Technical certificate||0 - 8|
A level APS per entry is substantially higher in 2019/20. However, given the different process to award A/AS grades in 2019/20, a direct comparison will not be indicative of underlying changes 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.
Changes in APS per entry for vocational and technical qualifications overall are smaller (though applied general still exceeds any increase observed since reporting began in 2015/16) . To some extent this reflects the different process to award grades in 2020 compared to that for A/AS levels. For the majority of vocational and technical qualifications, awarding organisations were able to use evidence of work already completed during the course, and elsewhere some students have taken adapted assessments. However, comparisons are not indicative of underlying changes in student performance
A level APS per entry by region
Regions with the highest APS per entry by exam cohort
|APS per entry - A level||South East||South East||South East|
|APS per entry - Applied general||North East||West Midlands||West Midlands|
|APS per entry - Tech level||North East||London||London|
Regions with the lowest APS per entry by exam cohort
|APS per entry - A level||West Midlands||West Midlands||West Midlands|
|APS per entry - Applied general||South West||South East||East of England|
|APS per entry - Tech level||East of England||West Midlands||North East|
The regions with the highest and lowest APS per entry for A levels have been consistent for the past 3 years (including the different process for awarding grades in 2019/20). The lowest averages for applied general and tech level were more variable, possibly reflecting the smaller student cohorts.
Making comparisons over time
As previously noted, direct comparisons with previous years will not be indicative of underlying changes in student performance. Where achievement gaps alter in 2019/20 compared to previous years (for example the gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students) it might reflect the different process by which grades were awarded this year.
Results by gender
While there were broad increases in attainment this year due to the different process to award grades, these were slightly larger for female students. For A levels, females saw a 5.9 point increase in APS per entry compared to 5.6 points for male students. Applied general and tech level qualifications also saw larger increases in attainment for females (3.1 v 2.7ppts and 1.7 v 0.9ppts respectively).
However, note that in grade terms the increase in the APS per entry gender gaps are modest (a change of 0.5 points corresponds to 1 /20th of a grade).
Results by disadvantage
The method of awarding grades hasn't led to notable changes in the gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students in state-funded schools.
At A level, disadvantaged students saw a slightly larger increase in APS per entry than non-disadvantaged students (6.3 v 5.7ppts, representing the gap narrowing by a little over 1/20th of a grade).
The opposite was the case for applied general and tech level qualifications. However increases in attainment were smaller for both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students, and gaps only widened very slightly.
Results by ethnicity
For A levels the largest point increases in attainment were for the ‘Other ethnic group' category (6.5ppts), ‘Black and Black British’ (6.3ppts) and ‘Asian or Asian British’ (6.1ppts). The effect of this is that the gap between the highest and lowest scoring ethnic groups has decreased very slightly this year, from 9.5 to 9ppts, or by about 1/20th of a grade.
For applied general and tech level exam cohorts different ethnic groups showed smaller, broadly similar increases in attainment. However, care should be taken interpreting exact changes due to small cohort sizes when broken down by ethnicity.
Results by first language
Students with a first language other than English have tended to do slightly worse in A level and applied general qualifications, and this pattern was maintained in 2019/20. However, differences in tech level attainment remain negligible.
Compared with last year, A level attainment increased slightly less for students with ‘English as a first language’ (5.8ppts) than for those in the ‘Other first language’ category (6.2ppts), reducing the gap, albeit only by about 1/25th of a grade. For applied general and tech level qualifications the impact on gaps was even smaller.
Results by Special Educational Need (SEN) status
As seen at other key stages, students with some level of SEN (EHC Plan, Statement of SEN, SEN Support) tend to have lower levels of attainment, and this is seen for all three qualification types (in 2019/20 and 2018/19).
There were similar annual increases in A level APS per entry for all students with some level of SEN and No identified SEN (all increases within about 0.3 points of each other, or about 3/100ths of an A level grade).
Across tech level and applied general cohorts the picture is more mixed, but overall there is no clear pattern for students with or without some level of SEN doing relatively better or worse in 2019/20.
APS per entry by institution type and cohort
There has been a large rise in APS per entry for A levels over the two broad school and college institution types shown in the table below, following two relatively consistent years. The 2019/20 APS increases range from +4.6 to +6ppts, in comparison to the previous year where the APS change ranged from -0.1 to +1.1ppts. This is likely to be due to the different process for awarding grades in 2019/20.
However, increases last year are less consistent across institution types for applied general qualifications, where other FE sector colleges went from the largest increase in APS between 2017/18 and 2018/19, to the smallest increase between 2018/19 and 2019/20.
Tech levels are mostly delivered in other FE sector colleges and state-funded schools: whilst attainment increased similarly by a little under 1ppt (about 1/10th of a grade) in other FE sector colleges in both the last 2 years, in state-funded schools the increase was much more marked at around just over 2.5ppts (or 1/4th of a grade) in 2019/20.
Technical certificate qualifications are mostly delivered in other FE sector colleges (93% of all entries), where attainment is essentially unchanged for the last 3 years.
In general, the vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) appear to show the smallest increase in APS. This is likely due to the different process for awarding VTQ grades than AS/A level. In VTQ qualifications that did use centre assessment grades this was often at unit level, and many awarding organisations were able to use evidence of work already competed during the course. For other qualifications adapted assessment meant calculation was not needed. This has lead to APS per entry scores for applied general and tech level cohorts overall more similar to previous years than A levels.
The graph below shows the distribution of A level grades for 2019/20 for students at the end of 16 to 18 study.
Reflecting the increase in APS, there are substantially higher proportions of grades at A*, A and B in 2019/20. As previously noted, year on year comparisons cannot be interpreted as students achieving at a higher standard. Where achievement gaps alter in 2019/20 compared to previous years (for example the gap between male and female attainment), it might reflect the different process by which grades were awarded this year.
Graphs and tables later in this section look at the grade distribution of students by gender and institution type.
A level results by gender
Overall in 2019/20 both males and females were more likely to be awarded the higher A level grades (A*/A/B) than in 2018/19.
However, increases were larger for females. The impact was to reverse the 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.
A level grades by institution
Both state-funded and independent schools saw considerable increases in the proportion of entries awarded A* grades at A level: state-funded schools increasing from 6.7% to 12.9% (just over 6ppts) in the last year, but still a smaller increase than independent schools (circa 11ppts). For both, the proportion of A* grades had fallen the year before that (from 2017/18 to 2018/19). It's a similar story for the top A*-A grades combined, where increases were bigger for independent schools than state-funded schools over the last year.
In contrast very few A levels failed to result in a passing grade in 2019/20 in either state-funded schools (0.4%) or independent schools (0.2%), and non passing grades were also lower than in previous years.
The increase in the proportion entries awarded A* grades for FE sector colleges was less pronounced than for state-funded schools, increasing from 5.5. to 9.6% (4.1ppts) from the previous year. Increases in combined A*-A grades increased from 20.3 to 29.9% (9.6 ppts) for FE sector colleges compared to last year. The proportion of exam entries not achieving a passing A level grade was slightly more for FE sector colleges than state-funded and independent schools at 0.7%.
A level grades by STEM subjects
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) A level results reflect the previously discussed increases in APS per entry for A level overall, with significant increases in attainment of top grades. Subjects with particularly large increases include further maths and computing.
For further maths in 2018/19, a higher proportion of entries by male students achieved a top A* grade, by a margin of 4 percentage points. For 2019/20 that gender gap has reversed. The high proportion of entries reaching A* in this qualification is also notable, 41.2% and 40.9% for females and males respectively.
The results for computing also show a gender difference in this year's results. In 2018/19 females were more likely than males to achieve top A*/A grades (1.3 percentage point difference). For 2019/20 that gender gap grew considerably, to 10 percentage points. Similar effects are apparent for other STEM subjects, such as mathematics and physics, with bigger increases for female students in the top grades.
Since August 2014, students on 16 to 19 study programmes of 150 hours or more who do not hold a GCSE grade 9 to 4 (or equivalent qualification) in English and/or maths, are required to study these subjects under Condition of Funding rules.
Calculating progress, and how points are assigned to English and maths qualifications
The English and maths progress measure is based on a scale which ranges from 0 to 9 points, depending on the type of qualification taken and the grade achieved. A student's progress is calculated by subtracting the points associated with their best grade during 16 to 18 from their points at the end of key stage 4. Students who do not enter any approved exams during 16 to 18 study automatically score -1 progress. A list of the qualifications eligible for inclusion in these measures, and their points, is available amongst the files available to download.
See the Methodology section for details of a change in points in 2020.
Data on a level 3 maths measure, along with further data on English and maths progress, is available to download in the associated files (the level 3 maths measure includes students who achieved GCSE maths grade 9-4 by the end of key stage 4, showing the % that go on to achieve an approved level 3 maths qualification).
Unlike the English and maths measures, level 3 value added is not being published for this cycle. English and maths progress is a direct measure of progress, but level 3 value added is 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 maths and English qualifications reported in the progress measures (for example GCSEs and Functional Skills) are also impacted by the alternative processes to award grades in 2020. As such the historically large increases in progress, and the jump in the proportion of students making positive progress cannot be interpreted as a change in underlying performance.
The number of students in scope continues to decrease, partly due to fewer students overall aged 16 to 18, and partly because more of those students had already achieved GCSE grade 4 or equivalent by the end of KS4.
Amongst state-funded institutions, ‘other FE sector colleges' tend to have lower English and maths progress than sixth form colleges, and state-funded schools.
Independent schools achieve the lowest progress scores in the measure. This is likely because they are not impacted by Condition of Funding rules, and so their students are more likely to enter unapproved qualifications such as International GCSEs.
This pattern of results was also seen for the previous two years. Note that care should be taken in interpreting the progress measure for institution types with low student numbers such as free schools, UTCs and studio schools.
Males made virtually the same progress as females in English in 2019/20; however the gap to females was less than 0.1pts (or less than 1/10th grade at GCSE), and had been narrowing. Females continue to make slightly greater progress in maths than males, and whilst widening slightly in 2019/20, is just 0.06 pts (or 6/100th of a GCSE grade).
Non-disadvantaged students continue to make better progress than disadvantaged students in both English and maths. In English the gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students is very slightly smaller this year, decreasing to 0.22 points. Similarly the gap for maths has decreased slightly to 0.18 points. Note, disadvantaged students are overrepresented in the English and maths progress cohort, at approximately 40% compared to less than 20% in the 16 to 18 cohort overall.
The English and maths progress for other student characteristics show no notable changes in the pattern of results.
Applied general, tech level, and technical certificate qualifications approved for reporting in this statistical release (and performance tables) are updated annually and published on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/performance-tables-technical-and-vocational-qualifications
The concept of qualifications approved for reporting has been applied since 2015/16 following Professor Alison Wolf's Review of Vocational Education. From 2017/18 at level 3 and from 2018/19 for technical certificates, the quality threshold for vocational and technical qualifications to be included in performance measures further increased. The later reforms include criteria relating to the size, content, and assessment, including a requirement that a proportion of a qualification's content is subject to external assessment.
The measures presented in this section show the students entering these approved qualifications as a proportion of students entering the wider set of vocational qualifications approved by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for funding during 16 to 18 study. As based on entries, these metrics were largely unaffected by the changes to grade awarding processes this year.
Proportions entering approved tech level and applied general qualifications continue to increase following a large fall in 2017/18 (when both lists of approved qualifications changed substantially); likewise the proportion of students entering approved technical certificate qualifications has increased following a large fall in 2018/19, when that list changed substantially.
The following table shows that there is considerable variation in whether different institution types enter students for qualifications approved for reporting in performance tables versus the wider set of qualifications approved for funding.
An increasing majority of students in independent schools and state-funded schools in 2019/20 entered approved applied general qualifications than in 2018/19; however conversely in sixth form colleges and other FE sectors colleges, whilst a higher proportion of students now enter approved qualifications, the majority still do not.
State-funded schools lead the adoption of reformed tech levels, however these still make up just about 1/3rd of vocational entries at level 3.
Take up of reformed versions of technical certificates is low across all institution types, but in particular in sixth form colleges.
Transition matrices (TM) are a useful tool to help visualise the progression from different groups of attainment at key stage 4 (KS4) to outcomes achieved during 16 to 18 for a range of different subjects. The TMs for 2019/20 have been extended to include subjects from tech level and technical certificate qualifications.
Note that the 16 to 18 outcomes here will also be impacted by the different process to award grades in 2020, which is likely to impact the relationship between outcomes and KS4 prior attainment in 2019/20 for subjects.
The TM data and details on how to use them are available for download from the ancillary data section.
Help and support
The United Kingdom Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.
Designation signifying their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:
- managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
- meet identified user needs
- produced according to sound methods
- well explained and readily accessible
Once designated as National Statistics it's a statutory requirement for statistics to follow and comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics to be observed.
Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.
If you have a specific enquiry about A level and other 16 to 18 results statistics and data:
Attainment statistics team
Telephone: Michael Greer
0370 000 2288
If you have a media enquiry:
020 7783 8300
If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:
037 0000 2288
Create your own tables
Explore our range of data and build your own tables from it.Create tables