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Complex gender findings from GCSE maths results

The brief report (TES, September 29) of my research paper at the recent ECER conference may have misrepresented the conclusions. Nationally, in 1994, about 15 per cent of entries for GCSE mathematics were for the non-coursework options showing that a large majority of schools chose to continue with maths coursework.

When the national results were analysed, the proportions of girls and boys in grades C and above were almost equal. However, statistically significant differences in favour of boys were found in the proportions within the higher grades A* to C, in both coursework and non-coursework options for all the five examination boards. These were attributable to imbalances in grades B and above. This outcome throws doubt upon the effect of coursework upon girls' success in GCSE mathematics.

These are complex issues, however, and it is also important to look at the picture in individual schools. A much less clear-cut picture was found in the individual schools in the local sample. I can supply a copy of the paper to interested readers.

MARIA GOULDING Lecturer in mathematics education University of Durham School of Education Leazes Road Durham

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