Royal Society responds to A Level results

15 August 2019

Professor Tom McLeish, chair of the Royal Society Education Committee said:

“The Royal Society would like to congratulate students on today’s A Level results. We recognise that the hard work put in by students, with steadfast support from their teachers and families, has paid off for many, and hope that those meeting with disappointment today will receive the help they need to find the best way ahead.

“The Society is pleased that students value science subjects with an increase of 12,000 entries, now accounting for over 20% of all A Levels. In a changing world of work, young people are recognising that the jobs of the future will require the skills and insights offered by the sciences and maths.

“The Society is delighted that the sciences are faring positively with increases in the number of students studying Biology (up 8.4%), Chemistry (9.2%), Physics (3%) and Computing (8.1%). While the first year of the reformed Mathematics A Level has seen a small but not unexpected drop in numbers, it still remains the most popular A Level, with a positive increase in the number of students getting the top grade. We need to ensure that the progress made in getting more young people to study maths to age 18 in ways that suit them continues.

“A further cause for celebration is that female entries in the sciences are at a historic high, with increasing numbers of girls opting for Chemistry and Physics. However, there is still work to do in closing the gender-gap in Maths and Computing.

“Whilst STEM entries have increased, education is not a zero-sum game and the Society is very concerned about the decline in some arts and humanities subjects, particularly English. The continued fall in AS Level entries to under 200,000 compared to 1.3 million before the reforms was expected, however the Society is concerned this is contributing to further narrowing of students’ choices and learning.

“We urgently need a conversation at the highest levels about a broader curriculum fit for the future.”