SCHOOLS and colleges in Yorkshire are reporting record A-level success today despite efforts by exams chiefs to stop results going up year-on-year. But the proportion of students scoring at least an A grade has fallen for the first time in more than 20 years.
In total, 26.6 per cent of the exams were given an A or A*, down from 27 per cent in 2011 - a record drop of 0.4 per cent.
It is believed to be the biggest fall in the history of A-levels. The last time it dropped was between 1990 and 1991 when it decreased to 11.9% from 12 per cent.
The number of students already accepted on to university courses has dropped by almost seven per cent.
As of midnight, a total of 357,915 applicants had had their places confirmed, down from 384,649 at the same point in 2011 - a fall of 6.95%.
The figures also show that around 79,000 UK applicants are still awaiting decisions, and that more than 10,000 people have already applied for places through clearing.
The headmaster of a leading private school has already launched a strong attack on the decision to try to prevent exam scores rising.
Exams regulator Ofqual has told exam boards they will be asked to justify results that differ wildly from previous years, which led to warnings the proportion of students awarded top grades are unlikely to increase greatly from 2011 levels.
Jonathan Taylor, from Bootham School in York, said: “Exam boards are having to reassess their grade boundaries, and students who last year would have gained an A will now only be awarded a B.
“Why do we put up with this arbitrary decision-making? Partly because the business of assessment is made very complicated and obscure.
“Our students deserve a system where they get marks for the work they’ve done, which are not then squashed into other numbers or turned into a grade by a different mechanism each year.”
Prof Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment at Buckingham University, said he would expect to see the proportion of exams awarded an A to stall but A*s to rise as schools are learning more about what is needed to achieve the new top grade.
Nevertheless, as the long wait for results came to an end this morning schools across the region were celebrating record successes.
The Grammar School at Leeds, in Alwoodley, has seen a record 17 students achieving A* grades in three or more subjects. Of these, seven students gained four A*s and ten achieved three A*s.
Overall the results were also up on last year with 99.9 per cent of students gaining pass grades between A* to E while 79 per cent achieved passes at grades A* to B.
Principal Mike Gibbons said: “These results are the culmination of dedication and sheer hard work and I am very proud of our students. Changes in admissions policies this year mean that universities can recruit as many students with AAB results as they wish. This puts our students in an extremely strong position – with 79 per cent achieving these grades.”
Elsewhere in the independent sector Bradford Grammar School has seen the percentage of pupils passing with an A*, A or B grade rise from 78 per cent last year to 84 per cent this year.
Sheffield High School and Hymers College in Hull also reported exam success while in the state sector Sheffield College and David Young Community Academy in Leeds reported best ever results
Assistant head of Roundhay School, Leeds, David Pearce, said students had achieved the best pass rates since 2008 but the highest ever average point score in this summer’s A-levels.
He said: “We has 152 students this year and it was a very diverse group. We are particularly proud of getting these results with such a large group.”
Today’s A-level students will be the first cohort to face tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year. It is also the first time universities can recruit unlimited numbers of students who have achieved two A grades and a B or better. Every university in Yorkshire expects to have some places still available today.