A-Levels – (Key Stage 5)

Overall

The number of students in Bristol taking A levels (or equivalents) continues to rise; in 2010 2,037 pupils took A levels, up from 1,301 two years ago. 

The A* – B pass rate for 2010 was 48.1%, an increase of 1.4% on 2009. The A* – E pass rate in 2010 was 97%, a marginal increase of 0.1% on the previous year. 

The main indicators for post 16 attainment are the total average point score and average point score per exam entry. These indicators are now (since 2006) measured in Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) points and give an indication of the average Level 3 attainment for each pupil at post 16 (for 16–18 year olds). QCA points are assigned to general (GCE) and vocational (VCE) advanced level grades on the following basis. Grade A = 270 points, B = 240 points, C = 210 points, D = 180 points, E = 150 points. This means that the total average point score for Bristol in 2010 of 664.9 roughly translates to an average of 2Bs and a C grade. The average point score per exam entry of 207.9 means that the average grade attained at each exam is marginally lower than a C grade.

The average point score of 664.9 represents a significant reduction from previous years, and Bristol remains well behind the national average: 

Key Stage 5 Average Point Score (2006 – 2010)

Source: Bristol City Council

There was only a marginal drop in the average point score per exam entry, but the gap between Bristol and the national average has widened: 

Key Stage 5 Average Point Score per Exam Entry (2006 – 2010)

Source: Bristol City Council

Between 2009 and 2010, the percentage of candidates achieving 3 or more A*-A grades at GCE/Applied GCE A Level and Double Awards has improved slightly from 7.3% to 8.9%. The corresponding figure for the Core Cities is 8.6% and for Bristol’s statistical neighbours 11.6%. 
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Gender differences 

As has been seen throughout this needs analysis, boys are outperformed by girls at every stage of their education. However, there is evidence that by Key Stage 5 the gap varies quite widely between Local Authorities, and that the gap in Bristol is smaller than in most other LAs. For example, taking the average point score per pupil, girls in Bristol are only 3.8 points ahead of the boys. In Birmingham, girls are on average 50 points ahead of boys, yet in Portsmouth boys actually outperform girls by an average of 26.2 points. 

There is evidence that the gap between boys and girls is narrowing. In the last two years, for those achieving at least 3 A-levels graded A* – B the gap reduced from 11.4 percentage points to 9.1 and now stands at 5.6. For those achieving at least 3 A-levels graded A* – E the gap closed from 13.2 percentage points to 7.1 and is now 6.8. This is reflected in the next chart: 

Percentage of candidates passing 3 or more A-levels by gender, (Bristol, 2006 – 2010)

Source: Bristol City Council

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Free school meal eligibility 

There is little evidence that the wide gap between those pupils eligible for FSM at key stage 5 is improving systematically. For example in 2009 none of the 25 pupils that qualified for free school meals passed 3 or more A-levels at A*-B. The next chart shows a persistent disparity between the two cohorts of pupils: 

Percentage of candidates passing 3 or more A-levels by FSM eligibility, (Bristol, 2006 – 2010)

Source: Bristol City Council

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Special educational needs 

Because of the low numbers of pupils with SEN at key stage 5 it is difficult to perform any meaningful analysis. There were only 5 and 14 pupils fitting this category in 2008 and 2009 respectively. It is worthy of note that this number rose significantly to 50 in 2010. Of this 50, 26% achieved 3 or more A-levels at A*-B, and 76% of them achieved 3 or more A-levels at A*-E. These percentages compared reasonably well with those for non SEN students, who scored 28.4% and 76.5% for the same measures. 
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Ethnicity gap 

At key stage 5 the gap between BME and White pupils has fluctuated considerably since 2006. However it is the case that although the overall trend is suggestive of improvement, there is very little difference between the 2006 gap and the 2010 gap. 

Percentage of candidates passing 3 or more A-levels by ethnicity, (Bristol, 2006 – 2010).

Source: Bristol City Council


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