The 2017 A level results revealed that boys beat girls to top grades, with 26.6% of boys achieving the top grades A-A* compared to 26.1% of girls. This is the first time in years that boys have done better than girls at A level, and suggests that they may be starting to close the ‘gender gap‘ in education.
However, such general analysis may actually be misleading, at least according to some recent analysis carried out by statisticians on behalf of Radio Four’s More or Less.
Firstly, girls are outperforming boys at all other levels (all other grades) at A Level.
Secondly, a lot more girls do A levels than boys, and it’s problematic to talk about how well boys are doing without taking into account the seemingly higher proportion of boys who have been judged, by virtue of their GCSE results, not to be competent to do ‘A’ levels in the first place.
Finally, if you analyse the results on a subject by subject basis, you basically find that the above data is skewed by the A level maths results.
Maths is the subject with the highest proportion of A-A* grades of all subjects, with nearly 18% of 18% of grades being A or A*, and 60% of exam entries are by boys. Contrast this to English Literature, where 75% of entrants are girls, and only 9% get an A*, and you can pretty much explain the .5% in different in high grades by these two subjects alone.
Overall, girls got more As and A*s in 26 of the 39 A level subjects.
Maybe pulling all of these 39 subjects together and just presenting the overall percentages is not helpful?