In the letter (attached below), the exams regulator advises on how grades will be awarded, the potential impact of new qualifications and the importance of exam security.
The letter, which was sent by email to 7,000 schools and colleges in England, refers to figures we published today on the number of students taking exams.
The figures show:
- GCSE entries are relatively stable (less than 1% increase, to 4.9 million)
- early entry for GCSEs continues to decline (down 13%, to 300,000) but entries from post-16 students sees 26% increase, to 335,000
- entries for GCSE computing increased by 64%, to 64,000
- A level entries are down 2%, to 787,000
- entries for AS are down 14%, to 1.1 million
New AS levels in 13 subjects (art & design, biology, business, chemistry, computing, economics, English language & literature, English language, English literature, history, physics, psychology, sociology) were introduced in September 2015. Summer 2016 is the first time these qualifications will be awarded.
The new AS level is no longer part of the new A level, so students starting the new A levels need not sit AS exams at the end of the first year. We therefore expected the drop in overall entries at AS.
In our open letter to schools, we set out what these changes in AS entries might mean for individual schools and colleges. We advised that schools and colleges that when qualifications change they are more likely to see volatility in their results compared with the previous year. We have published information on this and we will publish similar information for AS in August.