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Education in the Media: Thursday 23 August 2018

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Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at this year’s GCSE results.

GCSE Results

Today, Thursday 23 August, the Joint Council for Qualifications released the 2018 GCSE results. This has been covered extensively by BBC News, the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph, the Mirror, the Metro, the Mail and the I and running across broadcast all day.

This year, pupils sat the new more rigorous, gold-standard GCSEs for the first time in 20 subjects, taking the total to 23 reformed GCSEs
Figures show there were more than five million entries in GCSEs in England this year, up 0.9% on last year, despite a decrease in the number of 16 year olds in the population, with around 90% of entries being in our new, gold standard reformed qualifications.

There are many other positives to come out of the results too. Entries into the core academic subjects that best keep pupils’ options open – the English Baccalaureate – have gone up by 1.2% with attainment improving in these subjects. As well as this, entries into modern foreign languages and the individual sciences have increased.

London remains the strongest performing region, while almost all other regions have seen improved performance on last year – with the South West seeing the biggest improvement at grades 4/C and above.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, education standards are rising in our schools and pupils have shown their abilities by achieving excellent results today, with so many pupils meeting and exceeding the standards we expect.

Girls in STEM

Today, Thursday 23 August, the Guardian published a piece suggesting that girls are being put off of studying A Level mathematics and Physics due to a lack of confidence and absence of peers in the classroom.

Entries to STEM A Levels by girls is up 5.5% from last year, and up 26.9% since 2010. In addition, overall entries into STEM subjects continue to rise, up 3.4% on last year, and 24% since 2010.

The department is currently addressing the issue of girls in physics and STEM, through the Stimulating Physics Network. This £2.15 million per year scheme helps schools to address the gender imbalance in physics through programmes which aim to build girls’ resilience and tackle wider gender norms.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Sciences, technology, engineering and maths can open the door to a range of exciting careers and give children the skills they need for the future. Since 2010, at A levels, we’ve seen a rise in entries to STEM subjects, including record numbers studying maths, making it the most popular subject.

We’re taking a range of steps to encourage more pupils to study these subjects including an investment of more than £2million a year in the Stimulating Physics Network, which includes a programme specifically designed to increase the number of girls taking A Level physics.

Read more about our GCSE results here.

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