2016 GCSE results: our reaction

Today students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have received their GCSE examination results. Wellcome would like to congratulate all the students receiving science, maths and computing GCSEs – and the teachers who have inspired them. 

Chloroplasts in liverwort leaf cells

Credit: Spike Walker, Wellcome Images

Photosynthesis and chloroplasts are part of the GCSE Biology syllabus. There has been a rise this year in the number of students taking science GCSEs.

2016 has seen a substantial and welcome rise in the number of students taking science GCSEs, despite the overall cohort declining slightly from 5,277,604 in 2015 to 5,240,796 in 2016.

From 2015 to 2016:

  • Entries in biology rose 3.6%, from 139,199 to 144,148.
  • Entries in chemistry rose by 5.7%, from 133,618 to 141,245.
  • Entries in physics rose 4.6%, from 133,610 to 139,805.
  • The percentage of 16 year olds sitting GCSE Science rose 22%, from 208,192 to 254,964.
  • The percentage of 16 year olds sitting GCSE Additional Science rose 11.3%, from 322,353 to 358,911.
  • The percentage of 16 year olds sitting GCSE Further Additional Science fell 25.8%, from 23,135 to 17,174.
  • Entries to GCSE Computing rose 76.4%, from 35,414 to 62,454. The majority of this increase can be attributed to a corresponding decrease in the number of entries to GCSE ICT – from 111,934 to 84,120.

Professor Sir John Holman, Wellcome’s education adviser, commented: "We are pleased to see all five major science GCSEs – biology, chemistry and physics, science, and additional science – in the top eight subjects that saw the largest increases in entries between 2015 and 2016. 

"We share the government’s goal of encouraging more students to study more science for longer – not only to meet the increasing demand for STEM-related skills from employers now and in the future, but so that students gain the knowledge and skills to understand and make sense of the world in which they live. The UK is a global scientific leader, and if we are to stay that way we are reliant on today’s GCSE students, who will provide the scientists of tomorrow.

"While we welcome the increase in entries to all science GCSEs, there remains much to do. We need to ensure that this increase is sustained into the future, and the declines in attainment at grades A*-C in all science GCSEs underlines the importance of Wellcome’s goal of ensuring every child has the opportunity to study the full breadth of science – including the 'triple science' option of separate biology, chemistry and physics – with excellent teachers."