The Joint Council for Qualifications has today published the 2022 national results for Post-16 Vocational and Technical Qualifications, and AS and A levels in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. After years of disruption due to COVID-19, missed lessons and catch-up programmes, the perseverance and hard-work of thousands of students and their dedicated staff has been realised.
Let Community Union be the first to congratulate the teachers, lecturers, and more than 329,000 students and other learners on their massive achievements.
It is vital that we make every effort to commend teachers and support staff for their effort and dedication as well as celebrating the achievements of students who have striven to succeed despite the pressures and disruptions that have affected the last three years. Let’s not forget, that this is the first summer exam series since 2019 and for many candidates these are the first formal exams they have ever sat following the cancelation of their GCSEs. Proper recognition must be given to this fact making these achievements even more remarkable.
There are more 18-year-olds in the population this year, and a slightly higher percentage of them are applying for places so competition for places is going to be fierce, however, UCAS expects that most students will secure their place at their first choice University.
And there has been renewed pressure on the regulator OFQUAL concerning the grading of A Levels. Despite concerns from teachers and students, grades have been calculated to be midway between the teacher assessments of 2021 and the exams last held in 2019.
According to Ofqual, grading has been more generous than when exams last took place, before the pandemic. Awarding committees have been asked to be more generous when setting grade boundaries, resulting in overall pass rates at A*-E being very slightly up on 2019 at 99.5%, however pass rates are down 1.1 percentage points on 2021. This is a pattern we see across the results picture and will undoubtably cause concern for teacher and student alike.
English and Maths
Mathematics continues to be the most popular subject at A Level, but entries have seen a slight decline (2.1%) over 2021. As with all subjects the outcomes cannot be reliably compared with 2021 nor 2019 with the grades consistently midway between the two years. For the first time, English Literature has dropped out of the top ten of most popular subjects after seeing a 9.2% drop in entries.
The numbers studying for modern foreign languages continues to see some fluctuation though there is some stabilisation after a period of decline. Spanish is once again the most popular of the modern foreign languages with French dropping a further 5% to less than 8000 entries.
Science entries remain consistently high with 20.1% of all entries. Biology in particular attracted a 2.7% increase to 71,979 applications.
Art and Design subjects retains their place in the top ten of A levels with 44,690 entries, other arts subject such as Drama and Music have seen their numbers stabilise but Expressive and Performing Arts numbers continue to fall.
Praise and Reward
We know that many students will have concerns about whether they have achieved enough to continue with what they have planned. So, it is encouraging to note that in 2019, when exams last went ahead, around three-quarters of UK 18-year-old applicants were placed at their first choice. There are undoubtedly some young people who will be disappointed with their grades, particularly given the adjustment undertaken to reduce grade inflation. This year, UCAS again expects most students will secure their place at their first choice and we expect there to be extra effort made by higher education institutions to ensure that all learners are able to reach their potential.
It is important that no matter what the statistics may say, we do not undermine the very real achievement of this cohort of students. It is important to recognise the adversity that has been overcome and to commend this year’s achievement for the genuine success that it is. The stakes for students, teachers and lecturers continue to climb ever higher, therefore, it is a pleasure to note that following the greatest disruption we have seen in our lifetimes, staff and students continue to succeed and achieve.