Credit staff for improved A-level results;Hot data

23rd July 1999 at 01:00
In 1997-98, more than one in five 17-year-olds in England passed three or more A-levels, or their equivalent in advanced GNVQs. If those gaining between two and three passes are included, the total rises to well over one in four of the age group.

Students who can get through the gate at 16, and stay the course for two more years of study, are clearly reaping the benefits.

Among those who were successful were some 30,000 pupils in independent schools. These account for almost 14 per cent of all successful candidates, and for more than 21 per cent of all candidates from the schools' sector.

More than 30 per cent of independent-school candidates achieved scores of 30-plus points, or the equivalent of three grade As at A-level.

Not surprisingly, pupils at selective schools did nearly as well. Boys in such schools outperform girls in terms of the percentage gaining the highest number of points; but then more boys in selective schools also gain low scores. However, there are about five-and-a-half times as many state-school pupils taking A-levels or advanced GNVQs in comprehensive schools as there are in selective schools.

More than 10 per cent of these comprehensive pupils achieve 30-plus points.

Students in sixth-form colleges do slightly better than students in comprehensives. On the other hand, students studying at this level in FE colleges rather than sixth-form colleges achieve few high grades.

With universities such as Oxford concerned about the percentage of their intake which comes from fee-paying schools, how easy will it be for them to alter the balance in favour of the state sector ?

Such universities might find sixth-form colleges and selective schools easier to target than comprehensives, as there are fewer of them. Whatever method is used to allow the most able to attend certain universities, relying only on A-level scores will not be enough, particularly in subjects where good teachers are in short supply.

There are fewer geographical differences in results at A-level than at GCSE. Among maintained schools, only the North-east and London regions had mean scores below the national average for such schools. Generally, as at other levels, boys performed less well than girls.

It will be August before we will see whether those who sat these exams this summer have improved standards even further. If they do it is to be hoped that teachers get the credit rather than the exam system being blamed for a decline in standards.

John Howson is fellow of Oxford Brookes University and runs an educational research company. E-mail: int.edu

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now