A-level computing results: Progress made in gender diversity

The UK is facing a vacancies crisis and there is no short-term fix, but this year’s A-level results point to an increasingly gender-diverse future workforce

Building and developing a strong, technology-led economy is among the ambitions set out in the government’s Industrial Strategy, which focuses on improving productivity through technologies such as artificial intelligence.

However, in the tech sector, the latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that for the quarter between May 2022 and July 2022, there were 74,000 vacancies in the information and communications sector.

Reducing this figure requires developing tech skills, which starts with equipping school-leavers with the right skills. The A-level results represent an indicator of the talent pool created by UK higher education institutes, which feeds the vacancies pipeline.

Overall, 14,810 candidates took A-level computing in 2022. This number has been steadily rising since 2012, although the graphs published on the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) show that while there has been a fourfold increase in the number of male candidates taking A-level computing, the number for female candidates has increased almost ninefold over the past 10 years.

The data shows that almost 80% of female candidates (79.7%) and 75.4% of male candidates achieved grades C and higher in A-level computing. The proportion of those achieving the top A* grade fell back from 19.8% in 2020 to 14.4%. The current year’s results are more closely aligned with the results for 2020 (13.6%).

Ofqual said the results both for A-levels and AS levels are higher than in 2019. It reported that 35.9% of A-level candidates achieved grade A compared with 25.2% in 2019. The results show that 62.2% of candidates achieved grade B and above compared with 51.1% in 2019.

For AS results, Ofqual reported that 25.2% of candidates achieved grade A compared with 20.1% in 2019. It noted that entries for AS have fluctuated in recent years, making it harder to interpret any changes.

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Jo Saxton, chief regulator at Ofqual, said: “The class of 2022 can be so proud of what they have achieved. Today’s results are higher than those of 2019, and – as we have always said – lower than in 2021, when there was a different method of assessment.

“It makes sense to compare this year’s results with those of 2019, when exams were last sat. I felt strongly that it would not have been right to go straight back to pre-pandemic grading in one go, but accept that we do need to continue to take steps back to normality. These results overall, coming as they do broadly midway between 2021 and 2019, represent a staging post on that journey.”

In his Twitter feed, Will Quince, minister of state for school standards, congratulated teachers and student on the results. “The amazing results we are seeing today are a testament to the resilience and hard work of students and teachers around the country,” he said. “I wish you all the best in your next steps, whatever you decide to do!”

In a follow-up tweet, he also had a message to those students who did not get the grades they require for entry into a university course. “Remember that university isn’t the right option for everyone and there are lots of choices out there,” said Quince.

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