GCSE results 2019: Girls surge helps lift computing

Number of girls taking computing GCSE rises, but subject yet to match peak popularity of ICT

Catherine Lough

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Entries in computing GCSE have had a significant increase, with girls seeing the biggest percentage rise in candidate numbers.

The number of girls taking computing GCSE rose by 2,112 or 14 per cent to 17,158 entries this year. 

And the overall number of students taking computing has risen by 5,406 – 7.24 per cent to 80,027 entries.

However, computing entries remain significantly lower in comparison to ICT before the subject was scrapped. In 2015, 111,934 students sat ICT.

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Related: Hinds calls for pupils to study languages and computing

And while the subject remains dominated by boys – who make up 78.6 per cent of entries – girls have the edge in outcomes for the top grades, with 24.9 per cent of girls achieving grades of A/7 or above, compared to 20.8 per cent of male entries.

Girls also outperform boys at grades C/4 and above, with 66.2 per cent of girls achieving C/4 grades or higher in the subject compared with 61.7 per cent of boys.

Last year, researchers from the University of Roehampton warned that the reformed GCSEs – which scrapped the legacy qualification in ICT – meant fewer and less diverse students were studying courses in computer science.

They said while the number of students taking computing GCSE was rising, computing and ICT were different qualifications taken by different groups of students.

And they warned that the decline in numbers taking any form of computing qualification would particularly impact girls, who made up 38 per cent of ICT GCSE students.

In May, Tes reported that the number of hours spent teaching computing had fallen by 36 per cent between 2012 and 2017, while the overall number of students entered for computing/ICT at Year 11 decreased by 144,000, or 45 per cent, between 2017 and 2018.

In July, former education secretary Damian Hinds called for more students to take up computing, saying that young people needed to develop “the languages of machines for the world of tomorrow.”


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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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