Examinations trends: the changes and the challenges ahead

The class of 2020-22, have completed their examinations in Covid. This extraordinary time is not business as usual for all students and their teachers – regulators have asked for exam boards to lower grades and this year GCSE art and design candidate numbers, have fallen. Regional and sector disparities remain stark. 

Key 2022 trends and changes

 

  • Entries for all arts subjects have fallen but the fall for art and design is less than other arts subjects. Entries have fallen in England, Northern Ireland and Wales combined by 0.1% (of the overall total GCSEs sat from 3.7% last year to 3.6% this year. They remain above the level of 3.5% in 2019.
  • Art and design entries have increased in Scotland by 8.1% since 2019 but have remained relatively stable between 2021-22 (falling by  -0.7%).
  • 28.4% of GCSE art and design students achieved a 7A or above this year – this is beyond the expected midway percentage achieved between 2019 (22.9%) and 2021 (30.5%)
  • The gender achievement gap has closed slightly in all jurisdictions this year.
  • Between 2017 and 2022 the independent sector has seen a growth of 14 percentage points in grades 7/A and above. Secondary Modern schools have increased by 8.2%.
  • Between 2021-22, independent schools have seen the biggest reduction in the award of grades at grade 7/A (-4.6%), with Secondary moderns seeing the smallest decrease, at -0.2%
  • Higher achieving counties are found mostly in the SE of England. Lower achieving counties are more dispersed and include Midlands, South West, South and Northerly located counties.

 

Michele Gregson, general secretary of NSEAD says:

‘The 2022 GCSE results for Art and Design raise concerns in this the first stage of the Government's two-step return to the pre-pandemic status quo. The fall in numbers opting for GCSE Art and Design subjects (-2.1%) sees a return to the pre-pandemic downward trend, and the shameful gap between those who have most and those who have least advantages remains as wide as it was in 2019.

‘Funding failures in lockdown have not helped to address learning loss. Policy makers need to recognise what this has meant for art and design education. Anxieties have built due to inconsistent Covid absences – in year one of their these examinations, some students did not have any materials to use at home, access to online-learning platforms for some were non-existent. Schools were left to fund these shortfalls themselves – the impact of these policies, and lack of post-Covid funding is reflected in last year's and this year’s results, and those who had least support have been most affected.

‘Are we prepared to accept a return to ‘business as usual’ for education? What will it take for this Government to face up to a calamity created by their own design? As schools face the cost-of-living crisis this autumn, they are also confronted with a workforce crisis – an inadequate pay award, that comes with zero additional funding. Education is under threat, and particularly in areas of learning that are already undervalued and underfunded. We cannot and will not allow creative arts and design subjects to be sacrificed in a perfect storm of outdated and short sighted education policies, lost learning during the pandemic, growing budget deficits, postcode lotteries and the endemic inequality between the state and private sector that has only widened under this Government.’

'In this extraordinary year, we congratulate every learner, and every teacher for their results, their resilience and all that has been achieved this year.'

 

Entries

GCSE numbers are falling across all arts subjects UK-wide (data source JCQ)

                           2021    2022    Percentage fall (UK)

Art and design  210,091  205,657    -2.1

Drama                61,204    57,308    -6.4

Music                       39,194    37,705    -3.7

D&T                            91,185    86,297   -5.4

Entries for all arts subjects have fallen but the fall for art and design less than other arts subjects.

 

National Variations in participation (number of GCSE candidates)

                 2022        2021        2019 (decrease between 2021-22)

England  191,852    195,578    182,204      -1.9%

N Ireland    3,047         3,241        3,363      -6.0%

Wales        8,758         9,239        8,783       -5.2%

In the last year England has seen the smaller decrease with Northern Ireland the biggest (-6.0%)

National 5 art and design entries in Scotland Reported 9 August 2022, (source SQA)

                 10,095      10,020        9,320       -0.7%

Numbers of National 5 candidates are stable since 2021, but have increased since 2019 by 8.1%

 

Achievement

Art and Design GCSE entries and comparisons UK (JCQ

Years and grades: 

2022: 28.4% of students achieved a 7A or above

2021: 30.5% of students achieved a 7A or above 

2019: 22.9% of students achieved a 7A or above

A midway point of 7A and Grades for 2019 and 2021would be 26.7%. This year the 28.4% of students achieved this grade – which is above the midway point requested by Ofqual.

 

Gender, achievement and participation

The data below shows both the accumulative percentage of 7/A grades and above by gender and the percentage of total candidates sat in brackets.

Year       

2022             2021             Gender Percentage point decrease in 7A grades

30.5% (3.6)   28.4% (3.7)  (M/F combined) -2.1% points

 

15.0% (2.5)   16.4% (2.5)    (M)  -1.4% points

35.5% (4.7) 37.9% (4.8).      (F) - 2.4% points

 

Achievement and gender

In 2022 there is a 20.5% percentage points between male and female 7A+ grades

in 2021 there was a 21.5% percentage points between male and female 7A+ grades. The achievement gap as slightly closed this year.

 

Participation and gender:

Since 2021, the number of male candidates taking art and design GCSE has not changed (remaining at 2.5% of the overall total number of GCSEs sat in both 2021 and 2022). Since 2021, there has been a small decrease in the number of female candidates (4.8 to 4.7%).

 

Scotland Achievement in art and Design National 5 

Source SQA                                        2022              2021                2019

Achieved a Grade A (% in brackets) 4,480 (44.4%);   4,750 (47.3%);  3,250 (34.9%)

2022 Male grade A                                       Female grade A

31.1%                                                                48.8% 

Representing a 17.7% percentage point difference between male and female A grades

2021 Male grade A                                       Female grade A 

32.3%                                                                 52.4% 

With a 20.1% difference between male and female National 5, grade As in 2021 and 17.7% in 2022, the achievement divide has reduced this year in Scotland.

 

Sector differences 

Art and Design England only 7/A and above (source Ofqual)

                                       2017     2018.     2019      2020    2021    2022            Change between years 

                                                                                                                                  2022-21 2020-21 2019-20 

 

Secondary Modern     10.2      14.7        14.5        20.5     18.4    18.2               -0.2         +2.4       +6.0 

Free School                  15.7      14.5        17.3        25.0.    27.3    24.0               -3.4         +2.3       +7.7

Sec Comp                     15.7      19.9        19.0        25.9      26.6   24.3                -2.4         +0.7      + 6.9

Academy                       17.0     20.7         20.9        27.4      28.1   26.2               -1.8        +0.6       +6.5

Sec Selective                49.8     50.3         53.1        64.0     66.4    63.9               -3.1         +2.4       +10.9

Independent                 50.8      53.1        55.9        67.6      69.6    64.8               -4.6         +2.0      +11.7

 

This year, independent schools have seen the biggest reduction in the award of grades at grade 7/A (-4.6%), with secondary moderns seeing the smallest reduction, at -0.2%. Overall grades awarded in state sector settings decreased by 2.1%, a gap between state and private settings of 2.5%. This goes some small way to closing the gap between achievement in the private and state sectors, but the differential between sectors is still much wider than in 2019. The gap between the percentage achieving top grades in independent schools and those in the state sector in 2022 is 27%, compared to 22% in 2019.

Since 2017 the independent sector has seen a growth of 14 percentage points increase in grades 7/A and above. Secondary Modern schools have increased by 8.2%.

 

Regional 

Listed below are percentage of students achieving 7A and above in art and design GCSe.

As a benchmark in England: 28.1% of students achieve 7A or above (source Ofqual
 

Higher achieving – grades 7A and above

Rutland 46.2%

Surrey 39.7%

Hertfordshire 38.9%

Cambridgeshire 35.5% 

Berkshire 35.2%

Oxfordshire 33.9%

Warwickshire 33.4%

Greater London 32.3%

Northumberland 32.1%

East Sussex 32.1%

North Yorkshire 31.8%

Cheshire 31.7%

Gloucestershire 31.4%

 

Lower achieving counties

Isle of Wight 18.7%

Bedfordshire; 19.5%

Staffordshire 20.4%

Cornwall 21.1%

Cumbria 21.7%

Northamptonshire 21.8%

East Riding of Yorkshire 22%

Hampshire 23%

Lancashire 23.4%

Essex 23.7%

South Yorkshire 23.7%

Norfolk: 24.2%

Higher achieving counties are found mostly in the SE of England. Lower achieving counties are more dispersed and include Midlands, South West, South and Northerly located counites. Between the Isle of Wight and Rutland there is a 27.5% percentage point difference between  in students achieving level 7 and above.