National statistics on GCSE and A-level outcomes and destinations

Last week, the Department for Education (DfE) issued 2017/18 provisional grades for key stage 4 and key stage 5 qualifications and 2016/17 data on the destinations of key stage 4 and 5 pupils.  Amongst the key headlines, the data shows that:

  • the average attainment 8 score for GCSE pupils in state-funded schools across England was 46.4, up by 0.4 compared to 2017
  • the average grade at A-level remains the same as last year (at C+), whereas the numbers taking level 2 technical or vocational qualifications increased by nearly 10%
  • the numbers of pupils in “sustained destinations” following key stage 4 and 5 remains stable (at 94% and 89% respectively) compared to last year, although the data shows that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are 5% less likely to stay in sustained education (such as University) after key stage 5

Only 43.0% of pupils in state-funded schools achieved a so-called “strong pass” (grade 5 or above) in GCSE English and maths, prompting the Association of Schools and Colleges (ASCL) to launch a commission looking at the impact of messaging around “standard” (grade 4) or “strong” (grade 4) pass rates at GCSE. ASCL argue these messages are inherently “negative” and leave many pupils “feeling crushed rather than proud”. In addition, while the GCSE statistical release did not reveal the number of pupils who received a “standard pass” in maths or English, this is likely to be roughly one-third due to year-on-year “comparative grading” systems employed by exam boards. ASCL will look at the effect of making pupils who struggle to attain the so-called “standard pass” in their maths and English GCSEs sit continuous resits post-16.