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A-level pass rates set to break new records

A-level pass rates in England are expected to rise above 97 per cent for the first time next week, according to an analysis conducted by The TES.

A grades also look likely to nudge above last year's all time high of 25.3 per cent.

There were slightly more overall passes in Wales in 2007. But 23.9 per cent - almost 1.5 percentage points lower than in England - gained the top grade.

The difference led some experts to suggest that the work-based advanced baccalaureate - often a fourth A-level equivalent in some schools - was responsible.

Gareth Pierce, chief executive of the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC), has already said that the organisation believes the 76 per cent pass rate of the advanced bac will be bettered this year.

A grades at A-level in England rose dramatically from 20.7 per cent in 2002 to 25.3 per cent last summer. But higher pass rates are likely to lead to more claims of "dumbing down".

Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Slight increases will probably reflect that schools, colleges and pupils have better adapted to exam regimes - not that standards are lower."

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