In Brief

The A-level and GCSE results ‘most often inflated’ by teacher’s grades

History and biology results among the hardest hit subjects

A-level and GCSE grades have hit record highs this year, after a government U-turn prioritised teacher predictions over the controversial Qfqual-designed algorithm. 

The about-turn on grading resulted in a raft of young people winning places at their first choice universities, days after downgrading had led them to believe they would miss out.

But “not all subjects have reaped the benefits to the same extent”, The Telegraph says. 

A-levels

According to retrospective data for A-level results released last Thursday - before the government U-turn on Monday this week - “history, english literature and biology were the three subjects hit hardest by downgrades”, The Telegraph reports.

“The algorithm lowered the share of A and above grades at A-level for History down from 36.7% to 24.1% - a drop of 12.6” percentage points (pp), the paper says. Meanwhile, “English literature saw top marks downgraded from 37.7% to 25.4%”.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, “subjects such as German, music and design technology came out relatively unscathed”, with downgrades of just 4.6pp, 5.6pp and 6.0pp respectively, the paper adds.

The details will come as little comfort to one half-German student, whose mother last week called into LBC to explain how her German grade, “which we thought was a definite A, [was graded as a] C”. The girl’s mother told a bemused Iain Dale that her daughter had lived in Germany for five years and is “fluent in German”.

GCSEs

GCSE results broke records with 78.8% of papers rated grade 4 or above, compared with 69.9% in 2019. Despite “the most disrupted academic year in UK history”, there was a 25 percentage point rise in grades 7 or above, the equivalent of an A, the BBC says.

Some grades improved more than others following the scrapping of algorithmic grading, with subjects “with a lower number of students sitting exams” seeing the largest year-on-year improvements, The Telegraph says.

Smaller entries, such as astronomy, performing and expressive arts, engineering and drama, had larger increases than core subjects such as maths and English. 

“Astronomy and geology, saw the share of top grades increase by 17 percentage points (pp) this year - the most of any subject - while performing and expressive arts and engineering both saw rises of 15.1pp this year,” the paper says.

Economics, music and drama also saw some of the biggest gains, reporting rises of 15.0pp, 14.2pp and 13.3pp respectively.

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