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Significant increase in entries for GCSE Computing

22 Aug 2019

Tasqeen Ahmed uncovers the highlights behind today’s GCSE results release.

As students celebrate receiving their GCSE results today and make decisions about their future, we at CaSE have taken a deeper look into the results across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the impact of the reformed GCSE grading system on STEM subjects.

This year, the 16-year-old population is up by 1.5% compared to last year, with the number of GCSE entries rising by 1.4%.

This is the second year that students have sat GCSEs since the adoption of the 9 to 1 grade scale. As such, comparisons will be made with 2018 results. 

Computing remains increasingly popular with a significant rise in entries by girls

Whilst outcomes and entries for GCSEs remain stable overall, there is good news for Computing. Uptake of the subject continued to follow an upward trend as entries grew by 7.2% to 80,027. Whilst Computing has been a subject dominated by boys, what is quite encouraging to note is that entries by girls this year grew significantly by 14% to 17,158. However, there is still a long way to go as the proportion of girls to boys studying the subject remains relatively low, with girls comprising only 21.4% of total entries, up from 20.2% last year.

Positive trends were also observed with grades, with an increase of 0.7pp for students achieving grade 7/A and a rise of 1.1% for passes at grade 4/C compared to last year. Outcomes for both girls and boys improved similarly overall. However, girls continued to outperform boys in the subject with 24.9% compared to 20.8% achieving 7/A; and 66.2% compared to 61.7% at 4/C.

Improvements in science outcomes

Entries in science subjects remained relatively stable with small increases of 0.6% for Biology, 1% in Chemistry and 1.1% in Physics. However, it is important to note that these increases were lower than the population growth.  An increase of 4.8% was observed with the Science Double Award and this could be reflective of teachers and students becoming more familiar with the reforms.

Increases were also seen with grades, as the proportion of students achieving 7/A rose by 0.8pp in Biology and Chemistry and by 1.3pp in Physics. Interestingly, boys are closing the performance gap in Biology, whilst girls are closing the gap in Mathematics and Physics. Modest improvements at 4/C grade were seen in the Science Double Awards and the separate sciences.

Subject% Change in entries from 2018 to 2019
Mathematics (Additional)1.97%
Science: Double Award4.77%

The growth in entries and improved outcomes for Computing, particularly for girls, is a step in the right direction. With the reformed grading system now in its second year of exam sitting, we’d hope that future years follow a similar trajectory as teachers and pupils become more knowledgeable about the changes and make more informed subject choices.