Last week we blogged about A-level results which showed a positive trend in the take-up of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects but the gender gap remaining.
This morning young people up and down the country have been tearing open their GCSE results. Those opening their results this morning have probably had quite a dramatic build-up with initial headlines this morning of ‘the most volatile results ever' and question marks over the impact of various government reforms that have taken place.
So was it a case of getting the red pen out or did this year's pupils get a whopping great big tick?
Well…I would say it was a pretty big tick! There was a significant boost in the number of students passing the sciences and maths:
% achieving A* to C gradesMaths – 62.4% (up from 57.6% in 2013)Biology -90.3% (up from 89.8% in 2013)Chemistry – 90.7% (up from 90% in 2013)Physics – 91.3% (up from 90.8% in 2013)
Employers highly value these subjects and so those students passing with flying colours today will undoubtedly find themselves heading for prized and highly rewarded careers in industry.
And what was the fate for design and technology?
Unfortunately the decline in the numbers taking, and indeed passing, design and technology continued which may leave manufacturers concerned. The reason being design and technology can sometimes be the inspiration that young people need to pursue a career in manufacturing (I like to call it the nudge factor). It can also equip young people with much needed practical skills - particularly important for those considering a vocational pathway post-GCSEs.
But before we get too down in the dumps it is worth noting that the number of pupils taking engineering at GCSE has increased, as has those taking computing. So the nudge factor is back in the form of engineering GCSEs and young people are being equipped with the critical digital skills needed for the future.
So far so good. Was there any bad news at all?
The only real disappointment from today was the fall in those passing English (61.7% - down from 63.6% the previous year). Manufacturers may fear their entry-level pipelines may suffer as a result of not enough candidates having the desired level of literacy skills. Three-quarters of manufacturers say they prioritise candidates with qualifications in English, maths and the sciences when recruiting apprentices.
Perhaps some work to do here, but let's not allow this one fall to mask the great results we have seen today.
And to end on yet another positive – the number of A* to C grades across all subjects increased to 68.8% (up from 68.1% in 2013). So congratulations to the class of 2014!
Keep an eye out for our follow-up blog to see whether we are closer to achieving our Route to Growth benchmark of 65% of students achieving five A* to C GCSE grades including English and maths