Next generation of young people gaining the skills Britain needs

Results day marks the culmination of hard work from students and teachers, with reformed A Levels better preparing young people university or the workplace


Education Secretary Damian Hinds has today congratulated students picking up their results and welcomed the record rate of 18 year olds who are preparing to go to university.

Today’s A Level results show:

• Maths continues to be the most popular subject at A Level, with the number of entries up 2.5% on last year – up 26.8% compared to 2010;

• Entries into STEM subjects continue to rise, up 3.4% on last year and up 24% since 2010;

• An increase in entries to STEM A Levels by girls, up 5.5% from last year and 26.9% since 2010;

• Over half of the entries were in subjects that open doors to the widest range of courses at Russell Group universities, with the proportion continuing to rise year on year;

• The proportion of entries to art and design, music and modern foreign languages remains broadly stable;

• Yorkshire and the Humber has seen the biggest improvement in entries achieving top grades (A* and A); and

• In the second year of reformed A Levels, the percentage of UK entries awarded the A* grade remains stable at 8.0% this year, compared with 8.1% in 2010 and the overall UK pass rate remains stable at 97.6%, compared to 97.9% last year.

Today marks the first results of 12 more reformed A Levels, following the introduction of the first reformed exams last year. Under these reformed A Levels students are examined after two years helping them build an in-depth understanding of the subject, better preparing students for future study or the workplace. This follows universities saying many students lacked some of the skills and knowledge essential for undergraduate learning.

Thanks to Government reforms that have raised standards in our schools and targeted support to help students from low income families access higher education, university is now an option for more young people than ever before.

It comes alongside measures to create more, high-quality options for 18 year olds, including radical reforms to apprenticeships that are combining work with training in fields such as engineering and design; in some cases combined with a degree.

Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds said:

"I want to congratulate everyone getting their results today. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication – from both those receiving their marks and the teachers who’ve been supporting them every step of the way. They should rightly feel proud of their achievements.

"We’ve worked to improve education for every child – from their early years through to secondary school and beyond. I also want young people to have wider choice, whether that’s going to university, earning through an apprenticeship or in future taking technical qualifications that match the best in the world.

"Today is a significant milestone in the lives of many young people. No matter what path they choose to take next, we are working to make sure it provides them with a world-class education and a passport to an exciting future."

As young people receive their results and prepare for the next steps, for the first time National Careers Service advisers will be giving young people information, advice and guidance on skills, learning and work alongside the UCAS clearing service. This will help ensure young people are aware of all the education and training options available to them. The number for the exam results helpline is 0800 100 900.

Today’s results show a record rate of 18 year olds heading to university this September, including a record proportion attending from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Government is introducing further measures to offer more choice to students and widen access, including accelerated degrees and unprecedented access to data so students know where they will get the best outcomes.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

"Congratulations to everyone getting their results today, and to those hundreds of thousands who will begin their university experience in September.

"Thanks to the support offered by this government, no student with the talent and potential is restricted from studying in our world-class university sector."

We have worked with employers to design new high quality apprenticeships – including degree apprenticeships – making them longer, with more off-the-job training and proper assessment at the end so that apprentices are learning the skills that industry really needs.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:

"University has often been seen as the only route to a successful career, but apprenticeships can be a great way to give you the skills you need to get the job you want.

"We are shaking up the education system and working with businesses to provide even more opportunities to get into amazing jobs, and there are now high-quality apprenticeships available in a range of exciting industries including aerospace, fashion, nuclear and teaching – and up to degree level too."

From 2020 young people will be taking the first of our new T Levels – brand new technical qualifications on a par with A Levels that will give young people more choice and more opportunities to succeed and fulfil their potential. Today’s results come a week ahead of GCSE results. This year more students will be getting results on our new more rigorous GCSE qualifications that are graded according to the 9-1 scale and have been reformed to match expectations in the highest performing education systems in the world.

Further information:

• We continue to see record entry rates for 18 year olds, within a falling cohort.

• We define STEM subjects as: biology; chemistry; computing; mathematics (including statistics); further mathematics; and physics.

• The Russell Group defines those subjects that give the greatest access to degree courses at its universities as ‘facilitating subjects’. These are: biology; chemistry; English literature; geography; history; physics; modern and classical languages; maths and further maths.