Wales

Educational attainment at age 16

Key points

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Graph 1: Over time

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Graph 2: By deprivation

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Graph 3: By local authority

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Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the proportion of students (defined as pupils aged 15 at 31 August in the calendar year prior to sitting the exams) not obtaining five or more GCSEs (or vocational equivalent) at grade C or above (termed the 'Level 2' threshold by the Welsh Assembly Government).  The data is split between those who obtained less than five GCSEs (termed the 'Level 1' threshold by the Welsh Assembly Government) and those who obtained 5 or more GCSEs but less than 5 at grade C or above.

The data source for the first graph is the Welsh Assembly Government's publication entitled Examination results in Wales and its predecessors.  The data covers all schools in Wales.  The lower threshold - Level 1 - is understood to be effectively the same as 'fewer than 5 GCSEs of any grade (or equivalent)'.  The higher threshold - Level 2 - is understood to be effectively the same as '5 or more GCSEs (or equivalent) but less than 5 at grade C or above'.  Up to 2005/06, the only 'vocational equivalents' included were GNVQs and NVQs but, from 2006/07, all qualifications approved for pre-16 and 16-18 use in Wales are included.  This widening of definition has meant the inclusion of a larger range of qualifications and thus a lowering in the proportions not achieving the particular thresholds.  Note that the proportion with no qualifications is not shown as this data is no longer published.

The second graph compares the proportion of students failing to obtain the Level 1 threshold for groups of schools with differing proportions of pupils receiving free school meals.  For each year's data, both the results and the proportion receiving free school meals relate to that year.  The grouping of the schools has been chosen to best illustrate the differing trends.

The data source for the second graph is school-level data from the National Assembly for Wales (the data is not publicly available).  It covers all local authority maintained secondary schools.  Where either GCSE results or free school meal data for particular schools for particular years is not known, these schools have been excluded from the analysis for that year.

The third graph shows the proportion of students who fail to obtain the Level 1 threshold - five or more GCSEs or equivalent - by local education authority.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.

As with the first graph, the data source for the third graph is the Welsh Assembly Government's publication entitled Examination results in Wales and its predecessors.

Note that none of the graphs provide a comparison between Wales and the English regions.  This is because, with Wales now publishing only their results against Level 1 and 2 thresholds, it is not at all clear that the data is directly comparable.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  While the data itself is sound enough, the choice of the particular levels of exam success is a matter of judgement.

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