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Royal Society responds to GCSE results

12 August 2021

Responding to the publication of GCSE results, Professor Ulrike Tillmann, chair of the Royal Society Education Committee said: 

"The Royal Society warmly congratulates this year’s GCSE students on their results today. We hope the dedication and resilience shown by students, teachers and parents throughout another difficult year has been rewarded.

"The Society is pleased by the increase in pupils taking separate science subjects as well as approximately 22,000 more pupils taking the Combined Award, compared to 2020. Physics continues to be the science subject which has the biggest increase in entrants, with a 4% increase on 2020, while Biology sees the highest number of pupils attaining top grades among the single science qualifications.

"Around 63,400 boys took Computing compared to 16,500 girls, but it’s encouraging for girls to see that they continue to out-perform their male counterparts in achieving the highest grades. However, closing this participation gap must be a priority. Prior to the pandemic there were big increases in the number of students taking Computing, and girls were closing the gap on boys. This year, there were slight increases in participation overall but the number of girls taking the subject has dropped. Computing provides crucial skills and is increasingly important in all occupations and the Society is committed to increasing participation of pupils from under-represented groups. While the government have started to address the recruitment, retention and ongoing training of specialist teachers, this should remain a high priority in the coming years. It is vital that computing is seen as a core skill for all, not just a select few. 

"It is important to closely monitor how the pandemic has affected long standing inequalities in attainment across regions, demographics and socio-economic groups. As we saw with A level results, an attainment gap persists between pupils receiving free school meals and their counterparts, and this and any other variations should be a focus in the ongoing catch-up programme."

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