Equalities Analysis of General Qualifications in Summer 2021


Release date:



Equalities analysis of general qualifications - summer 2021

This experimental statistics release updates the official statistics release in 2020 which was produced in response to stakeholder interest.

Key Points:

  • This analysis has used the most comprehensive data available, but to provide a consistent analysis it focuses on the main age group for each general qualification for learners in maintained schools only. Figures, therefore, may differ from other published statistics which use more comprehensive data.
  • This release contains results data for 2017-2021. Results in 2021 were centre determined grades based on assessment by teachers. Results in 2020 were the best of the centre assessment grade and calculated grade. Results in 2017-2019 were awarded based on performance in exams and non-exam assessment pre-pandemic.

  • Due to small sample sizes, ethnic background data has been aggregated into broader ethnic groups, categorised as per Office for National Statistics guidance. To avoid reducing sample sizes further, the category of ‘unknown or not stated’ has been counted in the minority ethnic background category.
  • There was a notable increase in the proportion of GCSE learners eligible for free school meals (eFSM) in 2021. This may be associated with the pandemic and may impact on the relationship between eFSM status and attainment in 2021.

  • The model-based analysis for GCSE uses Key Stage 3 teacher assessment to control for prior attainment. The AS and A level model uses mean GCSE score to control for prior attainment. However, the 2021 AS cohort mean GCSE score is affected by the unusual awarding arrangements in 2020.

  • The model-based analysis does not ‘explain away’ differences in outcomes between groups of learners with different characteristics (attainment gaps). The model-based analysis supports a better understanding of how the attainment gaps have changed. Interpretation of the model results should bear in mind the statistical uncertainty of the estimates and also the complex ways that learner characteristics can interact.

  • Key results
    • For GCSEs the model-based gender attainment gap in 2021 is narrower than in previous years relative to teacher assessment outcomes in Year 9, that is it is closer to the attainment gap implied from the Year 9 outcomes than what is usually seen in exam years. The SEN and ethnicity attainment gaps are stable, and the free school meal (FSM) attainment gap is wider than in previous years.

    • Due to small sample sizes the statistical uncertainty associated with the AS and A level estimates was so large that the results are not considered reliable. These results are provided in an appendix for transparency only.



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Email: statistics@qualificationswales.org


Tel: 01633 373 216

Email: comms@qualificationswales.org