Thursday, 27 August 2009

Hurray - Number of students taking science GCSEs increases at last

(By Richard Holway 10.00pm Wednesday 27th Aug 09) For many years I have been fighting a crusade to get more of our young people interested in STEM subjects. For example see my post on 19th Feb 2008 – STEMing the tide and 3rd June 2008 Maths - From Geek to Chic. For years I have written of declines in the numbers of students taking STEM subjects at GCSE, A-Level and at University.

So I really do applaud today’s GCSE results which show record rises in entries for maths, physics, chemistry and biology – after a long period of decline. Indeed up 18% in biology, 20% in chemistry and 21% in physics (between 15,000 and 16,000 extra students in each subject) in a year when GCSE entries overall fell by 3.5%.

However there was a further decline in those taking Information and Communication Technology which went down by 12,080 (14.1 per cent). Numbers have fallen by a third (33 per cent) in the past three years, from a total of 109,601 in 2006 to 73,519 this year.

Most people tell me that’s because the ICT GCSE is just a world away from today’s computing world and its current requirements. We really need to do something about that urgently.

But, if our kids are finally getting interested in STEM subjects again then it is even more important that we create the Entry-level IT jobs for them. Assuming today’s bulge in GCSE students goes onto further education, it is incumbent on us to ensure that we increase the number of entry level jobs over the next 2-5 years. As you are aware that is one of the key objectives of the Making BrITain Great Again IT Manifesto.

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