Maximising Achievement with Y13 in the final 15 weeks before the 2024 examinations in Wales

12th December 2023

A companion piece to our Alps Champions Webinar on Tuesday 16th January 2024.

At Alps, we are aware you are facing significant challenges in 2023-24:

  • Y13 students took GCSE examinations in 2022 when GCSE results were awarded more generously than in 2019 especially at A*-C and higher. Table 1 shows the relative proportion of GCSE grades by year from 2019 to 2023.

  • Because of this, students may have higher Prior Attainment (PA) than they might have achieved in a more ‘normal’ grading year.
  • However, their A Level results are being brought down to 2019 standards as they were in England in 2023. ‘AS, A level and Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications that are taken in November 2023, January 2024 and next summer will return to pre-pandemic approaches. This means that WJEC will not provide advance information ahead of the examinations. Nor will there be a broadly midway grading policy, as there was in 2022 and 2023.’ So, results will be significantly lower than in 2023 in 2024. Table 2 shows the relative proportion of A level grades by year from 2019 to 2023.

  • Replicating the grades that you achieved in 2023 may be very challenging in 2024.
  • Because students’ higher prior attainment will collide with lower A Level results in 2024, Alps will create a 2024 Post-Results Welsh Customer data benchmark to ensure absolute fairness in the award of our value-added grades. It is likely that the value-added based on our 2024 client benchmark will be higher, as well as fairer.


Some crucial questions:

1. Is the same priority given to robust data analysis / support / intervention as happens at KS4?

2. Does the Headteacher / Principal personally prioritise raising achievement Post-16?


We are here to support you with our Ten Top Tips :

1. If you are in an 11-18 school, make sure ‘the Sixth Form matters.’

2. Get everyone on board if you want to achieve your goals. Ensure that every middle leader and every set teacher understands their role in achieving the school’s ‘goals’ and feels responsible for helping achieve them.

3. Your goal might be the overall Alps’ Quality Indicator or the proportion of learners who, achieve three A levels (+ equivalents) at grades A*-A (Di*), A*-C (Di* -Di) or A*-E (Di*-P). But in either case, do all Heads of Department (HODs) and their set teachers know what they must do to help achieve your goal? Do they know who their key ‘Target Students’ are and what they need to do to help them achieve the next higher grade?

4. Use Connect to ensure you are on top of the subjects, sets, and student groups that need to improve to gain outstanding value-added progress / outstanding achievement.

5. Use Connect to ensure you are on top of the students who need support to achieve their Post-18 goals.

6. Focus on raising outcomes and progress by concentrating on improving the performance of targeted students in specific subjects. Some students will have a better chance of securing or improving their AS grade at A Level if they re-sit an AS unit in 2024.

7. Pay most attention to your largest cohort subjects that will have the biggest impact on this cohort’s outcomes and destinations, your Alps value-added (VA) and your Achievement measures.

8. Ask HODs to run department meetings based on:

  • Past papers and mark schemes (especially 2023)
  • Command words
  • 2023 Examiner reports – identifying those ‘silver bullets’ that will improve grades.

Share this invaluable information with your students.

9. Ensure Mock exams are marked to identify individual and collective learning gaps (skills / knowledge) so that these can be addressed, re-assessed, and closed before the summer. Based on what commonly lost students marks & grades in your Mocks and what the Examiner Report reveals lost students marks & grades in 2023, ask HODs to identify their five main priorities to work on from January to May to aim to make sure students do not make these same errors in the summer.

10. Make sure sustaining / improving performance at A*-B+ (Di*-Di) is a priority in your school and college.


In Connect:

1. Discuss with HODs and teachers which students on their course have the greatest potential to improve their mock / predicted grades. Use the ‘What-if’ tool in Connect to demonstrate the impact on subject VA of those students achieving a higher grade. Ensure that all teachers understand what needs to be done to enable each of these students to master the skills or knowledge the lack of which currently blocks them from achieving the next higher grade.

2. Use our comparison and filter tools to understand how the student groups in each subject or set are predicted to perform by disadvantage, gender, ethnicity & PA.

3. Because the percentage of higher grades dropped to midway between 2019 & 2022 in 2023, our analysis shows that many schools & colleges struggled to make strong progress with students with higher GCSE PA. It is likely to be harder than that in 2024. Therefore, we recommend a sharp focus on the mock and predicted grades of students with higher GCSE PA and your achievement of grades at A*-B (Di*-D) and above.

4. Use our Monitoring Accuracy tools to identify:

  • which subjects predicted most accurately in 2023?
  • which subjects are predicting outcomes most different to previous monitoring grade-point or are predicting much higher outcomes / higher VA than in 2023?

5. Identify students who are underachieving in two or more subjects for intervention.


Register for our webinar 

If you are an Alps user, you can register via your Connect homepage, for our free Alps Champions Webinar on Tuesday 16th January 2024.

If you do not use Alps, but are interested in how Alps could support you, do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly team at [email protected]. You can also call us 01484 887600 and we will be delighted to speak to you, or you can book a demo with one of our knowledgeable team here.

About the author: John Philip

John started working with Alps in 2008, while he was working at Little Heath Comprehensive School. At Little Heath, John used Alps to achieve top 2% performance in value-added terms. He also worked with schools regionally and nationally through the Raising Achievement Partnership Programme. Since leaving Little Heath in 2010, John additionally works as an associate for 22 secondary schools through PiXL.

Need more information?

If you would like any further information, please contact one of our expert advisers.

Get in touch