Royal Society responds to 2023 A level results

16 August 2023

Responding to the publication of today’s A level results, Professor Ulrike Tillmann, chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee said:

“Congratulations to all students receiving A level, AS and vocational and technical results today. We recognise the hard work students have put in and the extra pressure they faced this year, having never taken national examinations before owing to the COVID pandemic. The support they have received from their teachers and parents should also be acknowledged.

“Many will be celebrating today but there will be those who are disappointed. We hope they receive the necessary support to move on to the next stage in their lives.

“It is very exciting to see a significant increase in the number of computing entries, with a 16.7% rise to more than 18,000. However, the proportion of boys taking computing far outweighs girls at 85%; the Royal Society would like to see measures taken to encourage more girls to choose this valuable subject to prepare them for future opportunities.

“We are also pleased to see that chemistry, biology and physics remain in the top ten most popular A levels as these subjects are vital to tackle some of society’s biggest issues, including infectious diseases, climate change and biodiversity loss. It is great to see that chemistry (4.1 percentage points (pp)) and biology (3.7pp) have seen a rise in numbers, but disappointing that physics has dropped in popularity with a 3.5pp decrease in popularity, perhaps reflecting the need for recruitment of more specialist science teachers and further investment in professional development. It is also great to see maths, my own subject, keeping the top spot as the most popular A level subject, accounting for 11.2% of overall entries and a 1.3pp increase this year in the number of entries.

“Equally encouraging is the number of students taking English literature rising by 2.7pp this year, reversing a recent decline; but notable that other arts subjects, including English language, have not been so popular this year. This is significant as we believe a broad education which includes science, arts and humanities is important.

“Finally, we welcome the inclusion of T levels and other technical and vocational qualifications in the announcement of this year’s results but are disappointed not to see Core Maths qualifications gaining the same profile, particularly given the recent focus on the importance of maths for all to the age of 18.”

The Royal Society believes that education policy should be a priority for all political parties as we head into the next general election, both to help achieve stable economic recovery and to ensure that the next generation is ready to face an uncertain and challenging future.