Students aged 16 to 18 achieving at least 3 A grades at A level
1. Main facts and figures
- in 2017/18, 12.9% of students aged 16 to 18 got 3 A grades or better at A level (including students whose ethnicity wasn’t known)
- 22.5% of students from the Chinese ethnic group got 3 A grades or better, the highest percentage out of the 6 broad ethnic groups
- 5.1% of Black students got 3 A grades or better, the lowest percentage out of the 6 broad ethnic groups
- out of the 18 specific ethnic groups, students from the Chinese ethnic group were most likely to achieve at least 3 A grades
- Black Caribbean students were the least likely to achieve at least 3 A grades, with 3.5% doing so
- 28.6% of Traveller of Irish Heritage students got at least 3 A grades – while this appears to be the highest percentage, generalisations are not reliable as there were only 7 students in this ethnic group
The ethnic categories used in this data
This data uses categories from the Department for Education’s school census, which is broadly based on the 2001 national Census, with 3 exceptions:
- Traveller of Irish Heritage and Gypsy/Roma children have been separated into 2 categories
- Sri Lankan is included in the Asian/Asian British group but is not reported separately
- Chinese pupils have been assigned a separate category from Asian
These changes were made after consultations with local authorities and lobby groups.
Data is reported for broad and specific ethnic groups.
The 18 specific ethnic groups are
- Sri Lankan
- Other Asian background
- Black African
- Black Caribbean
- Other Black background
Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups:
- White and Black Caribbean
- White and Black African
- White and Asian
- Other Mixed background
- White British
- White Irish
- Traveller of Irish Heritage
- Other White
Other ethnic group
The 6 broad ethnic groups are:
- Asian/Asian British
- Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
- Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
- Other ethnic group
2. By ethnicity
|Ethnicity||%||Students in cohort|
|Mixed White/Black African||8.9||1,038|
|Mixed White/Black Caribbean||7.4||1,939|
The data used for this analysis comes from the National Pupil Database.
In 2017/18, students were included in the data if both:
- they completed their studies at the end of the 2017/18 academic year, or were 18 years old at the start of the academic year and hadn’t been reported in the performance tables at their current education provider
- they were entered for at least one A level (including A/AS levels, applied single A/AS levels, applied double A/AS levels or combined A/AS level)
Characteristics such as ethnicity are not routinely or consistently collected for students aged 16 to 18.
Information about students’ ethnicity was taken from school census data collected at the end of key stage 4. This method matched 83.2% of students in this data to an associated ethnicity.
Students who were unmatched might have:
- attended an independent school before their A levels and therefore not been captured in the school census
- moved to England after the school census data was collected
The distribution of characteristics of the unmatched students is likely to be different from those who have been matched, particularly because students from independent schools are more likely to have high attainment at the end of key stage 4.
In 2017/18, the overall percentage of students getting at least 3 A grades was 12.9%. For matched students this figure was 10.8%, and for unmatched students it was 23.5%.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
The Code of Practice for Official Statistics requires DfE to take reasonable steps to ensure that their published or disseminated statistics protect confidentiality.
For more information about DfE’s disclosure control procedures for its statistical releases please see DfE’s statistical policy statement on confidentiality (PDF).
Percentages in the charts and tables are rounded to the nearest 1 decimal place.
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Department for Education
Purpose of data source
The main aims of this data are to:
- to measure the performance of schools and colleges
- measure students’ performance
- monitor and improve standards
- inform parental and student choice
5. Download the data
Measure, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_type, Time, Time_Type, Geography, Geography_Type, Age, Value, Value_Type, Denominator