Few schools and colleges will get better GCSE and A-level results than last year, minister warns

Few schools and colleges will get better GCSE and A-level results this summer than they did in 2021, the government has warned.

Education minister Will Quince has said the UK must return to a position where qualifications "maintain their value".

Students have been sitting these exams for the first time since 2019 - and as schools return to pre-pandemic arrangements, grades are projected to fall both this year and next.

Last year, grades were awarded by teacher assessment due to COVID-19 - with Mr Quince explaining that "quite exceptional steps" taken to support pupils have led to higher grades.

A number of changes were made to reflect the disruption that young people have faced - mitigating the potential loss of learning during the pandemic. Some students were given advance information on the content that would be in their exams, while others could choose which questions they answered.

Mr Quince said it is "really important" for employers and universities that we return to the pre-pandemic approach of examination.

The prospect of lower grades will inevitably leave some students disappointed, but the education minister stressed that "universities will adjust accordingly" - and average grades will still be higher than they were in 2019.

He went on to say that students missing the grades they were predicted or hoping for is nothing new, adding: "That's why it's really important that young people recognise and know that there are loads of options open to you.

"You may still get into the university that was your first choice, you may go through clearing or go to another university - that's why it's really important to have a Plan B.

"You might go down a vocational route or an apprenticeship or you may even decide to go straight into the world of work."

Exam board announces second walkout

In other developments, there are fears that the release of results could be disrupted after AQA, the country's largest exam board, announced that a second walkout will be happening from 12-15 August.

Mr Quince accused unions of "scaremongering" and added: "I think young people have enough to worry about and be concerned about, ahead of examination results anyway.

"To add this into the mix as a potential worry about whether their papers will be marked and their results will come through on time is totally unnecessary."

The minister said he has had assurances that the strike won't have an impact on results days.

A-level, AS-level and T-level results are due to be released on 18 August, while GCSE grades will emerge on 25 August.