Sophie Todd, right, celebrates with a friend after collecting their A-level results in Norfolk yesterday. The number of top A grades fell to the lowest level in over a decade
TOP grades have plunged by the greatest amount since records began, with the proportion of As and A*s falling to its lowest in more than a decade.
The number of A* and A grades dropped by 0.9 percentage points, which is the largest fall since the Joint Council for Qualification’s data began in 2000.
This year, 25.5 per cent of A-level grades were A* or A, which is the lowest since 2007, figures show.
More than 300,000 A-level students from across most of the country received their results yesterday, with the majority of subjects redesigned to exclude coursework and modules.
The reforms, initiated by Michael Gove when he was education secretary, followed years of grade inflation, with growing numbers of students achieving top grades. Universities complained that thousands of students with A or A* grades would make it impossible for them to distinguish the very best candidates. The reforms also sought to address concerns that many students were insufficiently prepared for higher education.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated students on their results, as he pledged to boost education funding as well as give schools “the powers they need to deal with bad behaviour and bullying”.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the drop in top grades was partly down to more students taking A-levels, and also because of the subjects they are now studying.
“There has been a heavy emphasis on Stem [science, technology, engineering and maths] subjects and more young people have been encouraged to do them,” Mr Barton said.
The overall number of entries for science subjects rose by 12,000 this year, and now make up a fifth (20.9 per cent) of all A-levels.
Girls have taken the lead for top grades, with 25.5 per cent handed at least an A, compared with 25.4 per cent of boys. But on A* grades alone, boys performed better, with 8.2 per cent getting the highest result, compared with 7.5 per cent of girls’ entries.
Entries for English language plummeted by 21.8 per cent to 14,114, amid calls for ministers to open an inquiry into the decline.