Today’s GCSE results reveal that any advantage for boys in the new linear courses at GCSE could be levelling off, with the girls' lead at A/7 grades stabilising after the gap was narrowed last year.
The new GCSE courses were brought in from 2017 and were designed to be more challenging, moving away from modular assessment to end-of-course exams, which some thought would benefit boys.
GCSE results day: A head of department’s guide
Related: GCSE results 2019: MFL revival
However, this year’s results cast some doubt on the theory. In 2018, the gap between boys and girls at the top grades – where girls have long held the lead – narrowed from 7.3 percentage points to 6.5.
GCSE results: girls vs boys
But this year, the gender gap has stayed at 6.5 percentage points, with boys achieving 17.6 per cent for A/7 grades and above compared with 24.1 per cent for girls.
Furthermore, there has been an increased proportion of female entries gaining the A/7 grade or above in subjects where boys traditionally excel.
In maths, the top grades gender gap has narrowed significantly, with female entries scoring an A/7 or above at 15.5 per cent, up from 14.9 last year. Whereas boys saw a small drop to 16.7 per cent, compared with 16.8 in 2018.
Girls have also increased their proportion of top grades in physics, a subject where boys typically have a strong lead. This year, 42 per cent of female entries scored a grade A/7 or above, compared with 45.9 per cent of male entries, a gap of 3.9 percentage points, compared with 5.6 the previous year.
And in computing, there has been a significant rise in female entries, with girls continuing to outperform boys in achieving the top grades. Some 24.9 per cent of female entries scored a grade A/7 or above compared with 20.8 per cent of boys.
But across all subjects, at the "pass" grade, boys did narrow the gap, with 62.9 per cent of boys achieving a C/4 or above – up from 62.3 per cent last year. For girls 71.7 per cent of entries achieving the same level, up from 71.4 per cent the previous year.
And in some subjects where girls have traditionally led the way in scoring top grades boys have begun to recover some ground.
In biology, an increased proportion of boys – 40.5 per cent – scored an A/7 grade or above. Girls still did better at 44.3 per cent, but the gender gap narrowed from 4.3 to 3.8 percentage points.
And in English literature, boys have narrowed the gap at the C/4 pass rate.