Commenting on the GCSE results released today Professor Adrian Sutton FRS, Deputy Chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee, said:
“The Royal Society is pleased to see increases in the proportion of students taking mathematics (3.4%) and all sciences (3.8%). Mathematics remains the most popular GCSE subject and students have achieved great results with the proportion of A*s, As and Bs all increasing compared to last year.
Science and mathematics are at the heart of modern life. They are essential to understanding the world and provide the foundations for economic prosperity. This is why the Royal Society called, in our Vision for science and mathematics education report, for all young people to study mathematics and science up to the age of 18 as part of a new baccalaureate. With or without these policies in place, we hope as many as possible of the students receiving their GCSE results today will go on to study mathematics and science beyond age 16. It’s important they understand the life skills and job prospects studying these subjects bring. Schools should allow and encourage all interested students to continue to study these subjects. We are particularly concerned about reports that significant numbers of sixth form colleges have had to cut STEM subjects due to reductions in their funding.
As we praise the results published today we also look to the teachers that inspire and encourage students in these subjects. The UK’s capacity to offer a high-quality science and mathematics education to all young people is hampered by shortages of suitably qualified teachers that have persisted for many years. A dramatic change in political and public attitudes towards teaching is needed to ensure that it becomes a high-status profession and can attract a healthy supply of excellent science and mathematics specialist teachers. With more and more students studying these subjects, the shortage of specialist teachers is only going to worsen unless Government takes action to raise the status of teaching as a profession.”