10th August 2021

Education Policy Institute comments on 2021 A level results

Today, hundreds of thousands of young people received their A level and vocational qualifications, comprised of grades formed by teacher assessments. 

EPI has published its analysis of today’s 2021 results, examining the latest trends in A level attainment and entries among students. 

The analysis paper can be read here.


Commenting on today’s A level results, Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“Young people have done fantastically well to cope with the challenges of the past 18 months and we should celebrate their achievements. 

“Today’s higher grades will not come as a surprise. We have been warning the government and Ofqual since January that such rises will transpire unless they put in place a robust system that ensures consistency of assessment and anchors grades to previous years’ results.

“But we can’t lose sight of the most pressing issue, which is learning loss. Many students will have experienced considerable learning losses and there is a risk that the higher grades today distract from this. 

“We need to see a far more ambitious response from the government to help students with education recovery. Our research has shown that a three-year recovery package totalling £13.5bn will be required to reverse the damage seen to learning from the pandemic – but to date the government has only committed a fraction of this support.”


David Robinson, Director of Post-16 and Skills at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“It is unsurprising that we’ve seen considerably higher grades among students. Limited controls, a lot of flexibility on what could be included towards assessment evidence, and students often being given the benefit of the doubt, have all contributed towards this rise seen today.  

“More of a concern than increases is the fact that some groups of students will have lost out from inconsistencies in grading. But greater still is the problem of pupil learning loss caused by the pandemic, which will have been masked by these higher grades.

“The focus now needs to be on giving maximum support to students to ensure that they progress into their next destination, whether that’s in education, training or employment.”