Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the publication of this year’s A level and VTQ results in England.
“Congratulations to students and their teachers on this year’s A level and VTQ results. These are demanding qualifications requiring extensive knowledge, skill and application. Everybody involved should be proud of what they have achieved.
“The proportion of students achieving the top A level grades has fallen sharply this year, not as a result of underperformance, but because the grading system has been adjusted in the wake of the pandemic so that the distribution of grades in England is similar to 2019.
“This adjustment is a return to normality after the pandemic which necessitated the use of different approaches to grading.
“Whatever the rationale, however, it will feel like a bruising experience for many students, as well as schools and colleges which will have seen a sharp dip in top grades compared to the past three years.
“It is important to remember that these students also suffered the disruption of the pandemic, and this will have impacted particularly on those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“It is likely then that results at school or college level and between areas will be affected by these varying circumstances and it is important that parents, governors, politicians and commentators understand that this year is not comparable with 2019 or any other previous year.
“Everything possible too must be done to support these students. Universities must ensure their welfare systems provide the emotional and academic support some will require. The government must ensure employers are fully aware of the changes to grading standards.
“We would urge students who are disappointed by their grades not to panic but to talk to their teachers about the options available to them and we wish all the young people receiving their results today every success for the future.”