A Levels and university access 2021


This report from UK think tank the Sutton Trust looks at how the pandemic has disrupted education for this year’s cohort of university applicants.

In the wake of last summer’s disruption to the Higher Education entry process, this year’s cohort of young people finishing school and college have faced their second consecutive year of disruption to their education, impacting their schooling, their exams and assessment, and the transition to their next steps in education. In 2021 pupils’ grades will be determined by teachers, without any adjustment by algorithm, using assessment of content relating to only topics their class had been taught. However, while this approach does account for schools covering varying amounts of the curriculum, it does not take into account individual-level learning loss, an issue which is most likely to impact disadvantaged pupils less able to access home learning. This research brief considers how the pandemic has disrupted education for this year’s cohort of university applicants, changed the nature of A level assessments and affected students’ transition from school to university. It looks at applicants’ concerns about starting university in the autumn as well as the views of both teachers and university applicants on this year’s grading system.

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