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.
- In 2000 art and design entries accounted for 3.8%; in 1997 art and design accounted for 4.1%. Between 2010 and 2022, the average is 3.48%. Between 2000 and 2009 the average was 3.63%
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.'
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%
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.
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
Representing a 17.7% percentage point difference between male and female A grades
2021 Male grade A Female grade A
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.
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%.
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
Greater London 32.3%
East Sussex 32.1%
North Yorkshire 31.8%
Lower achieving counties
Isle of Wight 18.7%
East Riding of Yorkshire 22%
South Yorkshire 23.7%
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.