By the numbers: More students take GCSE English and maths

7th July 2017 at 00:00
A sharp rise in pupils sitting GCSE English, revealed in the latest Ofqual figures, has been put down to changes in exam rules

More students in England took an English or a maths GCSE this year compared with last year, new figures from Ofqual reveal.

GCSE English entries jumped by around 50 per cent this year. The dramatic increases – 52 per cent for English language and 48 per cent for English literature – were largely driven by changes in exam rules rather than rising pupil numbers. State schools were no longer able to enter pupils for iGCSEs and therefore, Ofqual reports, switched to GCSEs.

Also, schools putting students forward for both English language and English literature GCSEs in order to benefit from double-weighting under Progress 8 was another factor.

Modern languages in decline

Meanwhile, 26 per cent fewer students took a GCSE in combined science this year compared with last year, and the number of students taking Spanish, French and German fell by 3 per cent, 10 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively.

In Scotland, maths had the biggest increase in uptake. According to the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s most recent figures, 41,778 students took a National 5 – the Scottish equivalent to a GCSE – in the subject last year, compared with 36,483 in 2015. This was a 15 per cent increase.

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