Summer 2022 - differences in qualification results by learner characteristics

Thursday 20 Oct 2022

Qualifications Wales has today published its latest statistical release on the 2022 exam series. ‘Summer 2022 Equality Impact Analysis: GCSE, AS and A Level’ looks at differences in qualification results by learner characteristics.

These differences may have been influenced by other confounding factors, such as subject selection and prior attainment, which it was not possible to take account of with the available data.

It is also important to place attainment gaps in the context of changes in overall results. Different awarding arrangements were in place in 2020 and 2021 due to the cancellation of exams, and results in 2022 were awarded broadly midway between 2019 and 2021.

At a subject level, variation in attainments gaps can be quite substantial because of changes in the ability of learners choosing to study a subject, small entry sizes and other factors.

In most subjects, gender attainment gaps have been in favour of girls in recent years. Compared to 2021, the gender attainment gaps in 2022 tended to be narrower. Compared to 2019, the gender attainment gaps in 2022 tended to be wider at grade A/7 and above but narrower at grade C/4 and above. However, these patterns were not consistent across all subjects.

In most subjects, the GCSE attainment gap by free school meal eligibility at grade A/7 and above is narrower in 2022 compared to 2021, but larger than in 2019.  At grade C/4 and above, there is more variation in how the gap has changed over time, and the pattern is not consistent across all subjects.

In most subjects, the GCSE attainment gap by special educational needs provision in 2022 at grade A/7 and above is narrower in 2022 compared to 2021, but larger than in 2019.  At grade C/4 and above it is generally narrower than both 2021 and 2019, but this pattern is not consistent across all subjects.

Analysis of AS and A level results by Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that, generally, a greater proportion of top grades are awarded in the least deprived areas, and fewer in the most deprived areas. The difference between the most and least deprived areas reflects the overall trend in A level results for the year, so in years where results are higher overall, the gap between the most and least deprived areas is greater. At AS, the gap at grade A widened in 2022 compared to previous years.

More information about results by pupil characteristics can be found in the Examination Results release published by the Welsh Government.