Press release: Maths entries jump at A level as pupils embrace academic subjects

Schools Minister Nick Gibb congratulated young people receiving their A level results today as new figures showed the number of students studying maths rose significantly – with entries up more than 20% in just 5 years.

It was one of a number of academic subjects to see increases following the government’s drive to ensure more pupils studied them at both GCSE and A level through the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) performance measure.

Overall the number of entries in the facilitating subjects that are more often required by top universities than others are up by more than 15,000 since last year and 13.3% since 2010 – meaning more students are now studying the core academic subjects that will open doors to their future.

At the same time, entries into non-facilitating subjects are down by almost 12% compared to 5 years ago with big falls in subjects like general studies, which are often not recognised by universities, with almost 30,000 fewer entries since 2010.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

This year’s A level students are among the best qualified in a generation and I want to congratulate them on today’s results which reflect the dedication of teachers and young people across the country.

These results provide the clearest proof that the introduction of the EBacc and our drive to persuade more pupils to study core academic subjects has been a success.

As a result, thousands more pupils from all backgrounds are studying subjects that will secure them a place at a top university or an apprenticeship and that will help to secure well paid employment.

The growing rise in students taking facilitating subjects follows the introduction of the EBacc performance measure, which encourages the study of these subjects at GCSE.

Compared to 2014, today’s results show entries have risen in:

  • further maths – up by 6.9%
  • computing – up by 29.1%
  • geography – up by 12.7%
  • modern foreign languages – up by 3.8%
  • English literature – up by 7.1%
  • history – up by 7.1%
  • maths – up by 4.4%

The number of A level entries in science and maths subjects has increased by more than 38,000 since 2010, up by 17.3%.

Since 2010, the government’s plan for education has included a focus on encouraging more young people, especially women, to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. This has resulted in 16,000 more STEM A level entries for women.

The number of entries in facilitating subjects by women has also increased by around 27,000 since 2010.

There were more than 850,000 A level entries in 2015, and Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) figures show the proportion of pass rates has risen by 0.1 percentage points this year to 98.1%.

Notes to editors

  1. The EBacc measure was introduced to key stage 4 performance tables in 2010. It measures the number of students achieving A* to C in English, mathematics, sciences (including computer science), languages and humanities (geography or history) at GCSE. In June 2015, ministers announced their intention to implement the manifesto commitment that pupils starting secondary school this September will be expected to study the EBacc subjects at GCSE.

  2. Maths figures include statistics.

  3. STEM subjects include maths, further maths, statistics, biology, chemistry and physics.

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