The Royal Society comments on A Level results 2017

17 August 2017

Frank Kelly, Chair of the Royal Society Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education, commenting on the A level results released today, said:

“The Royal Society congratulates the pupils and teachers whose hard work and perseverance is reflected in today’s results. We would like to wish all pupils every success in the years to come.

“We are delighted to see an increase in Maths entries by 3.3% and that it remains the most popular subject (160,450 entries). We hope that A Level and AS Mathematics and the new qualification, Core Maths, will continue to be popular choices. As Sir Adrian Smith’s recent Review found mathematics is essential for understanding the modern world and provides the foundations for economic prosperity.

"We are pleased to see, for the third year running, an increase in young people studying A Level Computing (33.0% increase in A Level entries, the largest in any subject), although the total number of pupils is still small. There continues to be a large difference in the numbers of boys and girls taking this subject, with the proportion hardly changing overall (90%:10%). This difference must continue to be challenged and improved on.

“Biology, Chemistry and Physics remain popular A level subjects at 7.5%, 6.3% and 4.4% of total respectively, but we would like to see an increase of students taking these subjects.

“It is also welcome news that Further Maths AS Level has increased by 4.6% (27,980 entries) despite the continuous decline in the number of candidates taking AS qualifications (39.1% drop in entries). 

“However, it still remains of concern that there is a regional disparity in the uptake of mathematics. Only around a fifth of pupils in England who choose to study mathematics or further mathematics are located in the north of the country, which is below average for the proportion of the total number of entries in the north.

“We remain concerned that reforms to the funding of A Levels create pressure on schools and colleges to provide a narrower choice of subjects. We continue to argue that a broad and balanced curriculum is important for providing young people with the right skills, and the Government must continue to consider how it can adapt the current funding model for 16-18 education.

“The Smith Review points out that ‘quantitative skills are required in a wide range of occupations and activities, embracing not only the mathematical and physical sciences but also the social sciences, the humanities and the creative arts’”.