A-level grades: Top marks in Wales fall for fourth year

Education Minister Huw Lewis wants to consider pushing top pupils more

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The percentage of Welsh pupils receiving the highest A-level grades has fallen for the fourth year, while the overall pass rate stayed the same as last year.

The number of pupils who gained A* to E grades remained at 97.6%.

But there was a fall in the proportion gaining A* or A grades from 23.6% last year to 22.9%. It was 25% in 2009.

Education Minister Huw Lewis said the results were good but suggested high achievers could be pushed more.

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma passes rose nearly 4% to 8,565.

That compares with 8,259 in 2012 as more and more youngsters study the qualification as it is rolled out across Wales.

Mr Lewis welcomed the results but said he wants to consider whether pupils who achieve the top grades could be pushed more.

Huw Lewis said: "The question in my mind is 'are we stretching them enough?'. So we need to take a look at that."

He added: "The A-level pass rate in Wales remains high and we are seeing steady progress in a number of different subjects, with an increasing proportion of grades awarded at grades A* to C," he said.

"It is also extremely encouraging to see our flagship Welsh Baccalaureate continuing to grow in popularity."

Pass rates in Wales were lower than those for all A-level students across Wales, England and Northern Ireland where the top level pass rate was 26.3% and the overall pass rate 98.1%. Scotland has its own separate system of exams.

Girls v boys

Girls continued to outperform boys in Wales in all but the highest A* grade, with 98.1% of subject entries by girls this year gaining passes, compared to 97.0% of entries by boys.

The gap was widest at grade C, where girls outperformed boys by over six percentage points.

At the A* grade, the performance of boys was better than that of girls, with 6.2% of boys and 5.8% of girls gaining A*. The boys' performance fell slightly since 2012, but the girls' remained the same.

Record numbers have been awarded the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma with candidates from 169 schools, colleges and training providers.

At the moment the Welsh Bacc is a simple pass or fail but two years from now it will also be graded from an A* to a C.

Advanced Subsidiary (AS) results showed an increase in subject entries from 49,856 to 50,221.

Grade A was achieved by 16.2% of all subject entries in Wales this year, very similar to last year's 16.1%.

The percentages achieving A-E grades were 86.2% this year and 86.4% last year.

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