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Welsh beat UK's A-level average

If critics were looking to Wales for evidence that A-levels are getting easier, they would have been disappointed.

With the exception of a 100 per cent pass rate for Welsh first language, the overall pass rate for all subjects was little different from last year - up 0.3 percentage points to 96.8 per cent.

That puts Welsh students above the UK average of 96.2 per cent. They also get more A-grades, with 23.7 per cent of passes at the top grade compared to 22.8 per cent in the UK as a whole. Maths claimed the highest proportion of A-grades, with a mighty 43.6 per cent (up from 40.1 per cent). The next best subject in Wales for A-grades was French (32.2 per cent).

But while entries were down slightly for French, they were up 140 in the sciences and maths. The highest number of entries was in English (up 60 to 3,754).

"The generally high pass rates reflect the fact that students know from the AS results obtained during the first year of their A-level studies what their prospects are for success over the full programme of study," said Gareth Pierce, chief executive of the WJEC, the Welsh exam board.

Heledd Hayes, education officer with the National Union of Teachers Cymru, said it was good to know that Welsh students "were up there with the best in the UK".

She added: "I find the very slight increase in pass rates reassuring. Even I would think there was something wrong if there was a massive leap. But I doubt very much that A-levels are too easy.."

Anna Brychan, director of the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, said it was time for the "annual carping" about standards to stop, as schools had invested huge amounts of time and energy preparing pupils.

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