Specialist London state school averaged A* for every A-level entry in 2022 | A-levels

A specialist state sixth form college in London got the top grade for A-level results in England, according to detailed figures published by the Department for Education.

Students at King’s College London mathematics school averaged an A* for every A-level entry last summer, when grades were awarded by formal examinations for the first time since the start of the Covid pandemic.

The school, which only admits sixth formers with the highest grades in maths and associated subjects at GCSE, opened in 2014 but last year outperformed famous names such as St Paul’s girls school and Westminster school, which was founded in 1560.

Another selective state school, Queen Elizabeth’s school for boys in north London, came fifth overall, with average grades just below an A*.

Brampton Manor academy, a state school in Newham, east London, with a highly selective sixth form, produced another superlative set of results, with its 495 candidates averaging above an A grade, including a substantial proportion of its students classified as disadvantaged by the DfE .

The results meant 85 pupils from Brampton Manor saw gained places at Oxford or Cambridge last autumn. The school said that more than 300 of its pupils had had offers from Oxbridge since its sixth form opened in 2012.

Disadvantaged students gained lower results nationally than in previous years. After combining the results of A-levels, technical qualifications and applied general qualifications such as BTecs, the gap in grades between pupils classified as disadvantaged and their non-disadvantaged peers grew to its widest since it was first measured in 2016.

Disadvantaged students – mainly those who had been eligible for free school meals – were less likely to gain the highest grades in A-levels, although there was a slight improvement in the proportion who gained the very top A* grade.

Black or Black British students achieved the lowest average results across all A-level and equivalent qualifications, while disadvantaged Black students also achieved lower results than their other disadvantaged peers. White students had the biggest disadvantage gaps.

However, the DfE’s analysis said the effects of the pandemic and the use of assessments rather than formal exams in 2020 and 2021 meant caution needed to be exercised “when considering comparisons over time, as they may not reflect changes in pupil performance alone”.

The average grade for A-level entries across England was a B, an increase on the C+ recorded in 2019 when exams were last taken. Subsequent A-level awards in 2020 and 2021 were assessed by schools and teachers, leading to increases in the proportion of the highest grades awarded to students.

While 2022’s grades were generally above those awarded before the pandemic, the DfE and Ofqual, the exam regulator for England, had called for exam results to be at a midway point between 2021 and 2019. Grades awarded this summer are expected to be more similar to those of 2019, meaning that the average grade is likely to fall.

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