18th August 2017
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
Boys help to raise A-level grades
Top A-level grades have increased for the first time in six years, as teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland get their results.
A* and A grades were awarded to 26.3% of entries - up by 0.5 percentage points compared with last year - with boys overtaking girls in top grades.
There was a fall in the top grades for 13 subjects in England with new content and now assessed only by final exams.
In A* and A grades, boys have moved ahead of girls, with 26.6% of boys getting these results compared with 26.1% of girls, reversing a 0.3% gap last year.
The change is significant because girls outperform boys at every stage of their education, and have been performing better at the top grades at A-levels for 17 years.
There have been suggestions this could reflect the introduction of the new style of A-level exam.
As results were being received, the Ucas admissions body said 416,000 university places had so far been confirmed - down 2% on the same point last year.
University applications from the UK and European Union countries have fallen compared with last year and there is a demographic dip in the number of 18 year olds.
Many universities, including in the prestigious Russell Group, will still have places on offer through the clearing system, which matches people looking for places with vacancies on courses.
A-Levels 2017: ‘Politics yay, history boo’ – the changing tastes of 18-year-olds
Record numbers of pupils are studying A-level politics, a trend put down to a surge in political engagement among young people.
Interest in history appears to be falling, however, with the subject’s numbers slumping by eight per cent, to the lowest proportion of pupils taking it since 2013.
More than 16,000 pupils studied politics this year, up from 14,123 last year, despite an overall decrease in the number of A-level students.
Sharon Hague, senior vice-president at exam board Pearson, speculated that the increase linked to young people’s increasing interest “in the world around them”.
“We are in some fascinating times, so I think that’s quite a positive thing,” she said. “Young people are not only interested but perhaps making sure that they are informed about politics and what’s going on.”
The rise in political interest among young people follows increased turnout in this year’s general election.
According to YouGov, 59 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted in June’s snap election, up from 43 per cent in 2015. Among 18- to 19-year-olds, first-time voters, the turnout was 57 per cent.
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