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About the Royal Society

Royal Society comments on A level results

16 August 2018

Frank Kelly, Chair of the Royal Society Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education, said:

“The Royal Society would like to offer its warmest congratulations to all students and teachers in light of today’s A level results announcement, and their hard work is reflected in today’s results. 

“The past year has seen many changes for students and teachers so it is welcome news that more students are taking STEM subjects. We are pleased to see that 36.2% of all entries are in STEM subjects, up from 34.5% last year. It is also encouraging that more girls are taking STEM subjects too, 5.5% relative increase*, but there is still much work to be done to close the gender gap. 

“Whilst STEM entries have increased, we are concerned about the decline in some arts, humanities and language subjects. A broad and balanced curriculum is the best way to equip students with the rounded skills they need for the future world of study and work.”

Science and computing

“We are reassured to see that Biology, Chemistry and Physics remain as popular as ever with increases in entries to A level of 3.1%, 3.4% and 3.4% respectively.

“Although we are pleased that Computing saw the biggest percentage** jump in A-level entries this year, it was offset by a fall in students taking ICT. As this was the last year students could take ICT at A-level, we need to pay urgent attention to ensuring that the broadest range of pupils become equipped with relevant digital skills.

“We are deeply concerned that there continues to be a large gender disparity in this subject, with boys accounting for 88% of all entries. Advancing technology is changing the world of work, and it is vital to have all students leaving school confident in skills such as coding and algorithmic thinking. 

“The Royal Society published its Computing Education report last year which made recommendations on how we can start to close the gender gap in Computing, which these results make all the more urgent. There continues to be a regional divide that needs to be addressed too, with 45% of Computing entries coming from the south.”

Maths

“We are very pleased to see that maths has remained as the most popular A level making up 12% of all A level entries (97,627), with the total number of entries having risen by 2.5%. Mathematics equips young people with the skills they need for understanding the modern world and provides the foundations for economic prosperity.

“We are still very concerned that there continues to be 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 numbers of entries in the north.”


* statement amended for clarity on 21/08/2018

** statement amended for clarity on 21/08/2018