The summer ritual of A-level results day is so well known it's easy to forget the thousands of students receiving their BTec National results. Coronavirus has disrupted all courses, including vocational qualifications, so what is happening to ensure vocational students are getting fair grades? Studied over one or two years, BTec Nationals are vocational qualifications which provide work-based skills across areas including business, health care and engineering. They are assessed over the course of the qualification through exams, practical coursework and often placements. They can be used to attend university (similar to A-Levels), although many people take them so they have the skills for a specific occupation. Colleges and schools have been closed almost entirely since the end of March, meaning much of the coursework and exam-based assessments that make up BTecs will not have happened.
This year's exam results season has been like no other, but for the hundreds of thousands of students receiving their GCSE results, they will still have to decide what to do next. So how has post-16 education changed over the years? Until recently, students could head into work immediately after completing their GCSEs. However, changes introduced by the previous Labour government mean that since 2015, everyone must take part in some form of training or education until they are 18 - the first change to the school leaving age since 1972. Despite this, thousands still go straight into employment or avoid education and training, as there is no mechanism for the government to enforce the policy.
Hundreds of thousands of teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are awaiting their A-level results on which the university places of many depend. Teachers are warning of "volatility" in the results after changes to courses. However, hundreds of pupils already know if they have been successful after a computer error leaked the results of their university applications. There are expected to be more university places available this year, with suggestions of a "buyer's market". The long wait for A-level and AS results will soon be ended, with pupils going into schools to get results or finding out online.
A third more teenage women than men have secured degree places so far, the university admissions service says. As of Friday morning, 133,280 18-year-old women from the UK had secured a university place in the UK, compared with 103,800 men of this age. The difference is the largest recorded by Ucas at this stage of the admissions cycle. The figures come as data shows about 6,600 fewer students have degree places compared with this point last year. Why do more girls go to university?
More than half of England's universities have fewer than 5% of poor white students on their books, says an analysis of university entry figures. The report, from the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon), shows white students from deprived areas in low numbers in many top universities. There are 3% at the University of Oxford, compared with 28% at Teesside. The study says too few universities have clear targets to recruit white working-class students. Education Secretary Damian Hinds has previously warned of the risk of communities feeling "left behind".