Wellcome Trust comment on the 2014 GCSE results
News / Published: 21 August 2014
On the release of the 2014 GCSE examination results, the Wellcome Trust congratulates all students receiving science and maths GCSEs – and the teachers who have inspired them.
This year, due to policy changes concerning early entry, there has been a dramatic fall in entries from 15-year-olds across all subjects, including the sciences, which makes it hard to interpret the data. Considering 16-year-olds across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the number in the science-taking cohort has declined by 2.1 per cent compared with 2013, and:
- 21,119 16-year-olds took the new Further Additional Science qualification (which covers physics, chemistry and biology, and which is taken with Science and Additional Science to give three combined science GCSEs)
- 128,879 took Biology (as compared with 153,727 in 2013)
- 129,982 took Chemistry (as compared with 153,235 in 2013)
- 131,842 took Physics (as compared with 151,899 in 2013)
- there has been a dramatic four-fold rise in the number of students taking Computing or Computer Science GCSEs, from 3,867 to 15,842
- the number of A* grades in Biology, Physics and Chemistry has fallen slightly, but there has been a small rise in those attaining A* to C grades.
Dr Hilary Leevers, Head of Education and Learning at the Wellcome Trust, said: "We share the government's goal to see more students studying more science for longer – not just for our future workforce, but also so that everyone can appreciate science and understand its relevance to our lives. It is essential that new education policy changes do not work against programmes aimed at increasing science uptake, including many which are government-funded. We hope that the incorporation of computing and computer science into the new EBacc rules have not steered students and schools away from studying all of biology, physics and chemistry, preferably as three separate or three combined GCSEs. All students in all maintained schools should be following a balanced science curriculum until the age of 16, which includes a balance of biology, physics and chemistry – we hope that many will also choose to study computing or computer science.
"While we like to celebrate the numbers of students taking three science GCSEs, it's vitally important that students moving on to A levels – and their teachers – realise that it is perfectly possible to take science A levels after having taken Science and Additional Science GCSEs (formerly Double Science), and that students don't need A grades at GCSE to take science A levels."