Press release

More students study core subjects thanks to EBacc

Figures reveal how the new English Baccalaureate is increasing the proportion of pupils taking core academic subjects.

  • Historic decline reversed

Figures today reveal how the new English Baccalaureate is having an immediate impact - hugely increasing the proportion of pupils taking the core academic subjects most valued by universities and employers.

The English Baccalaureate - the EBacc - was introduced by the Department for Education (DfE) as an additional measure in the performance tables published in January 2011. Pupils who achieve a GCSE grade C or better in English, maths, a language, history or geography, and two sciences achieve the EBacc.

Today’s survey of almost 700 maintained secondary schools by the National Centre for Social Research, for DfE, shows that from September 2011:

  • 33 per cent of pupils taking GCSEs next year will be doing a combination of subjects that could lead to an EBacc.
  • 47 per cent of pupils taking GCSEs in 2013 will be doing a combination of subjects that could lead to an EBacc.

This compares with data which shows that in 2010 just 22 per cent of GCSE-stage pupils were entered for the EBacc.

The take-up of history, geography and languages indicates that the EBacc is reversing the long-term drift away from these subjects, and that they are bouncing back to the levels of a decade ago.

Geography

  • Last week the Joint Council for Qualifications published provisional figures for GCSE results which showed that 180,737 took geography GCSE this summer, compared to 194,599 last year, and 240,310 in 2002.
  • In 2010, 26 per cent of pupils at the end of KS4 were entered for geography GCSE.
  • But from September 2011, 33 per cent of those taking GCSEs in 2013 will be doing Geography GCSE - an increase of 28% in the numbers of pupils studying it.

History

  • Last week’s JCQ figures showed 218,588 pupils took a GCSE in history this year, compared with 221,281 last year
  • In 2010, 31 per cent of pupils at the end of KS4 were entered for history GCSE.
  • But from September 2011, 39 per cent of pupils taking GCSEs in 2013 will be doing history GCSE - an increase of 26% in the numbers of pupils studying GCSE history and back to the 1995 level.

Languages

  • In 2010, 43 per cent of pupils at the end of KS4 were entered for a language GCSE. In 2002, 75 per cent of pupils at the end of KS4 were entered for a language GCSE.
  • Last week’s JCQ figures showed 307,386 pupils took a GCSE in a foreign language this year, compared with 348,191 last year and 553,566 in 2002. French and German suffered the biggest falls (both 13 per cent) in entries of all subjects from 2010 to 2011.
  • But from September 2011, 52 per cent of pupils taking GCSEs in 2013 will be doing a language - an increase of 22% in the numbers of pupils studying a language GCSE.

Science

  • 29 per cent of pupils about to start Year 10 have opted for triple science compared to 16 per cent in 2010.
  • This is an increase of 82% in the numbers of pupils studying triple science at GCSE.
  Proportion of pupils who took GCSEs in summer 2010 Proportion of pupils taking GCSEs in summer 2013 2010-2013 change Percentage increase in numbers of pupils studying the subject 2010-2013
  (subject entries)  (subject choices)    
 EBacc combination  22%  47%  + 25% pts  115%
 History   31%  39%   + 8% pts  26%
 Geography   26%   33%   + 7% pts  28%
 Language   43%   52%   + 9% pts  22%
 Triple science*  16%   29%   + 13% pts  82%
  • Not required for the EBacc. Students can take double science or triple science to achieve the EBacc.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

Subjects such as physics, chemistry, history, geography, French and German give students the opportunity to succeed in every field. The numbers studying a proper range of rigorous subjects has been in decline. Now, thanks to our English Bacc, that has changed.

More young people are now following the courses which the best colleges and top employers value. The Government is committed to raising standards for all children and ensuring every child has a proper rounded education.

Notes to editors

  1. The survey is available online.

  2. NatCen undertook the survey to assess the effects of the EBacc on secondary schools in England. It was carried out in June and July 2011. The survey was administered to a representative sample of 1,500 maintained secondary schools (by region, establishment type and the proportion of pupils on free school meals). There was a response rate of 46 per cent, with 692 schools taking part (which maintained a representative sample).

  3. The figures compare GCSE entry data (historically) with current data on GCSE subject choice. Pupils who choose particular subjects are not always entered for them.

  4. The Joint Council for Qualifications published provisional GCSE results, including subject entries, last week. They can be found on the JCQ website.

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