Royal Society comment on GCSE results

25 August 2011

The Royal Society has welcomed increases in numbers of students taking science at GCSE but expresses concern at declining numbers studying ICT.

Professor Dame Athene Donald FRS, Chair of the Royal Society Education Committee, said:


“The Royal Society is pleased to see a significant increase in the number of students taking separate sciences at GCSE. This continuing rise in numbers, coupled with the excellent pass rates achieved, is proof that the brightest students are recognising the wide range of opportunities that doing these subjects offer for further study at A-Level and out in the job market. Women have long been underrepresented in science careers, so it is very heartening to see that girls are moving to these subjects at a faster rate than boys and getting excellent results at the higher grades.


In our State of the Nation report we identified the need for more specialist science teachers and we stand by this point. If we want to see the number of young people doing the sciences continue to rise we must ensure that schools are equipped with specialists who inspire pupils to become the scientists of the future and take these STEM skills into the wider job market.”


Professor Steve Furber FRS, Chair of the Royal Society Computing in Schools study, said:


“There has been a steep decline in numbers of students taking ICT at GCSE level – 57% in the last 5 years - we need to look at why this is. Dwindling interest in computing at schools does not sit well with the evermore central role we are seeing computers play in business, government, home and entertainment. Our knowledge economy is dependent on a workforce equipped with the skills that computing subjects at school lay the groundwork for. The Royal Society is currently conducting a study looking at this great fall in numbers and the reasons underlying the lack of enthusiasm for these subjects at schools. We expect to recommend fundamentally reforming parts of our education system when the report is published at the end of this year.”