ASCL comment on A level results

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders comments on results for A levels, AS levels and vocational qualifications published today,
Commenting on results for A-levels, AS-levels and vocational qualifications published today, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

Congratulations to students receiving their results in A-levels, AS-levels and vocational qualifications for all that they have achieved in the extraordinarily difficult circumstances of the past 18 months. 

“They deserve huge credit as do leaders and teachers who have worked with great professionalism and commitment to support their students throughout the pandemic and to then assess them for these important qualifications following the government’s decision to cancel public exams for the second year in a row.

“Today’s results show an increase in the proportion of students receiving A* and A grades in A-levels compared to 2019 when exams last took place as well as to last year when exams were cancelled for the first time and students were assessed by schools and colleges.

“It is important to understand that the system used to assess students this year is different from both formal exams and the approach that was used last year too when an attempt to use an algorithm to standardise grades nationally went wrong and had to be abandoned. It is therefore invidious to make direct comparisons with other years and vital that we celebrate the achievements of this year’s cohort who have had to endure so much over the past 18 months.

“This year’s approach has been based on teachers using a range of assessment methods to make a holistic judgement on the appropriate grades for their students with these judgements then being subject to quality assurance processes. No algorithm has been used and schools and colleges have worked diligently to implement this system and provide fair and accurate grades. It is a robust system in which students, universities and employers can have the utmost confidence. 

“The majority of university applicants will now go on to their preferred university, and those who have missed grades and go through the clearing process will receive support from universities, schools and colleges to find a course which fulfils their aspirations. It will be important that universities provide educational and pastoral support to their new undergraduates given the extreme disruption they have faced during the course of the pandemic and we are sure this is fully understood already.

“We wish all students well for the future, and once again extend our thanks to teachers and leaders for all that they have done.”