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A-levels: Hundreds might miss out on prime college selections


n “explosion” of prime grades that have been awarded to college students in the course of the pandemic is to be halved this 12 months, in line with an instructional.

It means 1000’s of scholars might miss out on their prime college alternative, a brand new report by Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Schooling and Employment Analysis on the College of Buckingham, stated.

“The Authorities has introduced that the rise of 160,000 prime grades in the course of the two years of trainer evaluation is to be halved this 12 months,” Mr Smithers stated.

“This can be a vital first step in restoring the worth of the grades, however with 80,000 fewer prime grades, 1000’s of scholars will miss out on the locations they’d have gotten final 12 months.”

He added: “The arduous work for these college students didn’t finish with the exams, however begins once more on results-day within the chase for a college place.”

The modifications come after a Covid-driven “experiment” by which the grades have been determined by lecturers as schooling moved from the classroom to the house throughout lockdown.

“The 2020 exams needed to be cancelled, however Ofqual was assured that the grades may very well be precisely calculated by becoming lecturers’ rankings into the grade sample of the earlier decade. All of it appeared believable and possible, however within the occasion proved to be disastrous.

Professor Alan Smithers, the College of Buckingham

“There was an explosion in prime grades, a significant swing to women, and large will increase in prime grades within the performing arts and sensible topics,” he stated.

“In 2022, there has truly been a return to exams, however with among the inflation of the Covid years retained.”

He stated the inflated grades of 2020 and 2021 have “drastically elevated the demand for college locations” and competitors shall be additional elevated by a spike within the variety of 18-year-olds.

“The chances are high that competitors for the sought-after locations will intensify. Significant A-level grades change into much more vital to make sure that locations are allotted pretty.”

However a Division for Schooling spokesman informed the Normal it’s “not proper” to recommend these components have “prompted a squeeze on locations”.

“Final 12 months didn’t see a excessive variety of deferrals in comparison with earlier years and UK college students take up the overwhelming majority of locations on college undergraduate programs in comparison with worldwide college students, so it isn’t proper to recommend that these components have prompted a squeeze on locations.

“Competitors for locations on the most selective universities has at all times been excessive and this 12 months is not any completely different – however there’ll at all times be plenty of choices for college students both at one other college, by clearing or high-quality vocational choices which might be simply as prestigious and rewarding as tutorial routes.”

A spokesman for exams regulator Ofqual informed Sky Information there may be “no hyperlink between grades and the provision of locations”.

He stated: “Whereas there could also be fewer prime grades this 12 months in comparison with 2021, when a unique methodology of evaluation (teacher-assessed grades) was used, universities perceive what grades will seem like general this 12 months and have made affords accordingly.”

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