Numbers getting top A-level grades improves in Wales

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Media captionColeg Gwent students Bronwen and Isabella tell Hywel Griffith about their results

The percentage of Welsh students achieving the highest A-level grades has risen for the first time in five years, but the overall pass rate fell.

The number of pupils who gained A* grades is up from 6% in 2013 to 6.7% - the highest since the grade was introduced in 2010.

But the proportion of students achieving A* to E grades fell slightly from 97.6% to 97.5%.

Wales has also narrowed the gap with England after top marks fell there.

The number of students gaining A* and A grades has also increased from 22.9% in 2013 to 23.3% in 2014, ending four years of steady decline.

Image copyright Lisa Hocken
Image caption Josh Lynbeck, (centre) head boy at Duffryn High School, Newport, has secured a place at Oxford University with two A*s and an A
Image caption There were smiles all round for pupils collecting results at Ysgol Tryfan in Bangor

Girls continued to outperform boys in Wales, apart from at the highest A* grade.

In England, the percentage of pupils achieving A* grades is up, but the numbers for A* and As combined are down for the first time in over thirty years, narrowing the gap with Wales.

Joining students collecting results at Gower College, Swansea, Mr Lewis said: "Once again our students have done us proud."

"I was very pleased to see the progress our students are making in achieving the higher grades, particularly in key subjects such as physics, history and chemistry which all showed improved A* and A pass rates compared to last year.

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Media captionKelly Howells from Gower said she had been 'screaming' with delight

"Our performance at A* to C for mathematics, chemistry and history also compares favourably with other parts of the UK and performance at English at A* to C has made great strides.

"These subjects are important for our economy and will stand students in good stead for the future."

Analysis by education correspondent Arwyn Jones

For the vast majority of students it will be a time to celebrate, even if it does mean a few frantic phone calls for some to get on the course they want.

And on that front there's good news. As the higher education sector becomes more and more competitive, universities will be keen to attract students. The advice is phone them, and phone them early.

The low numbers getting the top grades in Wales has been a cause for concern for a number of years.

Today's results show that the numbers getting either As or A*s has gone up for the first time in five years, although it's still lower than two years ago.

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Media captionEducation Minister Huw Lewis welcomed 'good progress' on top grades

In Wales, thousands of pupils will also be getting their Welsh Baccalaureate qualifications (WBQ).

The numbers studying for the WBQ has steadily increased over the past few years as it has been rolled out across Wales.

Currently it is a simple pass or fail, but there are concerns that some universities have been more willing than others to accept a pass as being equivalent to an A-level A grade.

However that could change as the WBQ will be graded in two-years time from an A* to a C.


  • Aberystwyth University 01970 608599/0800 121 40 80 @AberUni "Vacancies in all subject areas".
  • Bangor University 0800 085 1818; 09003285763 (Welsh lang) @BangorUni "Limited vacancies available across most subject areas"
  • Cardiff University, 029 2087 6000 @cardiffuni "Limited number of adjustment and clearing opportunities"
  • Cardiff Metropolitan 0300 330 0755 @cardiffmet "Limited places"
  • Glyndwr University 01978 293439 "Places available across all of our subject areas"
  • Swansea University 0800 094 9071@SwanseaUni "Limited vacancies available across most subject areas"
  • Trinity St David 0300 500 5054 @UWTSD "Accepting applications on a range of programmes in Swansea, Lampeter, and Carmarthen"
  • University of South Wales 03455 76 06 06 @UniSouthWales "A limited number of places available"
  • UCAS #Clearing @ucasclearing 0371 468 0 468

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