Entries for GCSE-level BTEC qualifications have plummeted by 43 per cent, according to figures released today.
Data published by the exam board Pearson shows that the number of registrations for level 2 BTECs dropped from 579,736 in 2014-15 to 333,285 in 2015-16.
The company said the drop was down to government reforms which meant that a significant number of BTEC qualifications would not count towards schools’ GCSE league tables.
It described the fall in entries as an “expected pattern, in part reflecting government changes to school accountability at key stage 4".
Girls outperform boys
The data also showed that girls outperformed boys across both levels, with 6 per cent of girls gaining the highest D* (distinction star) grade, compared with 2.5 per cent of boys, at level 2.
At level 3 – equivalent to A level – girls performed better than boys on all qualifications over the past two years.
The figures show an overall increase in entries for Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.
At level 3 there was an increase in the number of students completing BTECs in engineering, construction and applied science.
Rod Bristow, president of Pearson in the UK, said it was “encouraging” to see students choosing to study Stem subjects, which are favoured by industry.
“The global economy doesn’t just value what people know, it values what they can do, and as a practical, hands-on way of learning, BTEC offers proof of just this,” Mr Bristow said.