Today, hundreds of thousands of GCSE pupils up and down the country are celebrating as they receive their results. 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.
Today’s results show that among 16-year-olds in England:
- 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;
- Entries into modern foreign languages have increased, driven by rises in Spanish (up 5.3%) and German (up 2.5%) while entries in French have remained broadly stable in line with population change;
- Entries into individual sciences have increased – 22.8% in biology, 19.2% in chemistry, 17.6% in physics and 10.8% in computer science;
- Entries into geography and history have increased by 4.7% and 2.2% respectively;
- Entries and attainment in maths are broadly stable, with 71% of entries getting a grade 4 or above (up from 70.7% last year);
- Entries in English subjects are broadly stable and attainment has increased, with 71.8% of entries getting a grade 4 or above (up from 71.2% last year); and
- There is a narrowing of the gap in attainment between girls and boys at grades 4/C and above (down 0.5 percentage points on last year), with 73.8% of girls getting these grades compared to 64.6% of boys. This pattern is repeated among the top grades (grade 7/A and above), where the gap is down 1.1 percentage points on last year – 24.6% of entries by girls compared to 18.1% for boys.
More broadly the results show:
- 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; and
- Girls outperformed boys at the top grade 9 – Ofqual figures show 732 pupils who sat seven or more reformed GCSEs have managed to get straight 9s across those subjects - 68% of this group were female and 32% male. This year 2,025 candidates achieved all grade 9s in English language, English literature and maths compared to 2,050 last year.
Following on from the introduction of reformed maths and English GCSEs last year, these pupils were the first to take new, more rigorous GCSE exams in 20 subjects, graded 9 to 1.
The more rigorous content better prepares pupils for the world of work or further study. The 20 new gold-standard GCSEs – including the sciences, French, German, Spanish, history and geography – are now on par with expectations in countries with high performing education systems.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:
Congratulations to all the pupils getting their results today. All of their hard work – and that of their teachers – has paid off and I hope that this is the first step to a bright and successful future. Whatever they choose to do next – whether it is staying at school, going to college, or starting an apprenticeship – these qualifications will give them a solid base of knowledge and skills that they can build on.
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.
As Ofqual has said, students picking up their results today can be confident they have achieved the grades their performance deserves. As in previous years, the tried and tested principle of comparable outcomes will ensure standards are maintained.
Pupils will now look forward to their next step. Many will have chosen to progress onto A Levels, which have also been reformed to better prepare students for the demands of university. Last week, A Level students achieved excellent results, with a record rate of 18-year-olds accepted to university.
In addition to this, thanks to broader reforms, young people now have several other high-class alternative options, including apprenticeships. These are giving Britain’s workforce the skills employers need in a wide range of industries from engineering to nursing, and law to design. An apprenticeship is a great way to progress after school, by getting a real job with substantial training to help develop transferable skills and kick-start a career. Apprentices do not have to contribute to the cost of their training so it can be a great option for those who want to earn and learn at the same time.