Official data today shows that A-Level results in the North East were broadly in line with the UK trend, which saw a slight dip in the top grades.
The number of pupils achieving an A grade in the region fell by 0.1 per cent – the same as the overall figure for the UK – compared with 2014 results. This outperformed Yorkshire & the Humber (-0.5), West Midlands (-0.3), East Midlands (-0.7) and the South West (-0.7).
The North East saw one of the lowest dips in improvement at grade A and no change in grade E from 2014. The North East also came top with the highest overall pass rate in the country of 98.5 per cent, closely followed by the West Midlands at 98.1 per cent.
However, data from university admissions organisation UCAS shows the North East comes bottom in terms of university applications for the January 2015 deadline, with only 31.1 per cent of pupils applying for higher education.
SCHOOLS NorthEast director, Mike Parker, said: “Schools are reporting fantastic individual achievements which are testament to the hard work of pupils and teachers alike. While the overall pass rate success and the performance against many other regions has been good, there remains a gap between the North East and the top-performing regions.
“However, school leavers getting their results this year are in an incredibly strong position when considering their options, particularly if they are progressing to university. Despite government maintenance grants for lower-income students being scrapped from September 2016, universities are bringing out an array of incentives to entice applicants.
“Seeing as the cap on student recruitment has now been removed, greater opportunities for schools leavers wanting to carry on in higher education are now available and the financial incentives will be most beneficial to pupils.
“For those prospective students who have outperformed their expected grades, they have the opportunity to use the UCAS Clearing system to their advantage. In the new world order of higher education, the student has become the customer and they are becoming increasingly cognisant of the importance of this change in emphasis.”
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said: “Congratulations must go to young people and their teachers who have worked so hard to deliver yet another excellent set of results. It is clear that standards have been maintained across the board and credit for that must go to teachers who have, yet again, pulled out all the stops to ensure that young people are supported to achieve their best.
“It should be noted that teachers have achieved these results against a backdrop of savage cuts to pay and funding and attacks on their professionalism and working conditions.
“Our A-Level system is a gold standard system which has been highly regarded and respected nationally and internationally. Today’s results have been achieved against a backdrop of planned reform to the qualifications system which have been rushed through at breakneck speed.
“As the new first of the new qualifications begin to come on stream from September, it will be critical that schools and pupils are provided with appropriate support and guidance in order to ensure that the outstanding results achieved today can continue to be maintained in future.
“The Government has to take responsibility for this and ensure that teachers have sufficient time and resources to ensure the continued effective delivery of high-standard A-level provision. Teacher workload and stress is already at unsustainable levels. The future success of qualifications reform must not be at the expense of teacher wellbeing and morale.”