Thursday, 21 August 2014

GCSE Results Day: Maths Results Rise

GCSE students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been receiving their results today. The results show that 68.8% of entries scored A*-C, up from 68.1% last summer, although there was a marked fall in English GCSE grades.

Students sitting their GCSE Maths exam.
Photo: Wikipedia.
There have been warnings of volatility in this set of results following an overhaul of the exam system. The most significant impact on this year's results has been the big fall in students taking their GCSEs a year early. Schools have been discouraged from such multiple entries following changes in the way school league tables are compiled.

Fewer fourth years taking maths GCSE meant there was a sharp improvement in maths results: the percentage achieving A* to C grades rose by 4.8 percentage points to 62.4%.

The overall pass rate was 98.5%, down 0.3 percentage points. 6.7% of entries were awarded an A* grade.

Girls are still doing better than boys at GCSE, with 73.1% of girls' entries achieving A* to C compared with 64.3% for boys.

In England, but not in Wales or Northern Ireland, this is the first year of results following moves towards exams at the end of two years, rather than including coursework and modular units. The results for GCSE English seem to have been most affected by this change, with the number of A*-C grades down 1.9% to 61.7%.

In Wales and Northern Ireland, these changes were not introduced and the three regional sets of GCSE exams are now beginning to diverge in various ways, including the subjects being taken by students.

While the government are defending the changes being made, Chris Keates of the NASUWT teaching union said this year's students had to "cope with a raft of rushed through and ill-conceived changes to the qualifications system and so today's results are especially commendable".

The National Union of Teachers' leader Christine Blower said that the headline figures "mask underlying issues which will only become clear over time".

Have you had your GCSE results today, or are you teaching GCSEs? How did your school fare following changes to the structure of GCSEs this year? Let us know at .

Thursday, 14 August 2014

A-level maths now most popular subject

Pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A-level results today and they appear to have fallen slightly this year.

The Joint Council for Qualifications, issuing the results, said there has been a slight fall in A* and A grades and the overall pass rate is down for the first time in over 30 years. The percentage gaining the very highest A* grade has risen from 7.6% to 8.2%. 8.5% of boys' grades were A*, with girls' grades at 7.9%.

A-Level results this year are "broadly stable".

For the third successive year overall A* and A grades have fallen slightly (this year down from 26.3% to 26%), but exam officials are saying A-level results are broadly "stable".

For school leavers planning to go to university, there are suggestions this could be an unusually good year to apply. There are a record number of university places on offer this year - over 500,000 for the first time, which is a rise of over 30,000. Students may still get places even if they have missed their grades. The Ucas admissions service says initial figures show a 2% increase in students getting their first choice place.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says the government is "lifting the cap on aspiration". Universities Minister Greg Clark says the increase in the number of places is an "important source of social mobility".

There is a trend for more students to take so-called "facilitating subjects" at A-level, such as maths and physics, which can help university applications. Maths is now the most popular subject, overtaking English this year for the first time.

It is the first set of results following the Government's scrapping of January A-Level sittings. However, the fewer opportunities to take modules does not seem to have affected students' overall performance too badly.

Regarding other proposed changes, Labour's shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said he would reverse the government's plan to remove the link between AS and A-levels. This de-coupling of the two exams would limit young people's "opportunity to realise their full potential", said Mr Hunt.

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