Science scores as A-levels boom

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The Independent Online
More students than ever before are taking A-level exams, and the number choosing science subjects is rising, according to figures released yesterday by the exam boards.

Entries for physics and chemistry, both down last year, have increased this year and the improvement in the numbers taking maths continues. Other subjects whose entry also increased were English, computing, business studies and general studies.

The increases in science entries were small compared with those for arts subjects, but the rises could mark an upturn after years of concern over the unpopularity of science.

There were clear decreases in the percentage of entries for Economics (down 15.1 per cent) and French (5.7 per cent).

Kathleen Tattersall, convenor of the joint forum for the GCSE and GCE, said: "The continued upward trend in the entry for A-level against demonstrates the attraction of the A-level qualification to students who recognise its value as a passport to higher education and employment."

David Moore, chief executive of the Association for Science Education, which represents science teachers, said he was encouraged by the results. "We think that youngsters are now seeing science as a useful career and we are seeing a degree of realism come back into their choices."

The proportion of entries awarded A grades remained the same. In some subjects, such as chemistry and economics, the percentage of candidates getting A's went up. In others, such as English and business studies, it went down.

Some exam board officials believe one reason why the proportion of A grades has levelled off is the increase in the number of modular courses, which include a series of tests throughout the course plus an final exam. It is more difficult for candidates to maintain a high level of performance for two years. Traditionalists have attacked modular exams because of the higher pass rate.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Anybody who seeks to knock modular courses on the back of these results is barking up the wrong tree. These courses are not, under any circumstances a soft option."

Ministers have announced a review of the curriculum for 16-19-year-olds, including A-levels, which will begin in the autumn. Baroness Blackstone, the education minister, yesterday made it clear to teachers' leaders that the Government had no intention of abolishing A-level and replacing it with a baccalaureate-style examination.

Ministers are understood to favour gradual change to a new advanced diploma which students would earn through acquiring a combination of A, AS, vocational A-levels and key skills. The diploma would be a requirement of university entrance and would require students to spend significantly more hours in the classroom than at present.

Provisional A-level Results - June 1997 (UK Candidates Only)

Cumulative percentages of subject results by grade

The figure in brackets are the equivalent 1996 results,

(Percentages have been rounded to add up to 100)

% of candidates gaining grade

Subject A B C D E N U Number % of

sat total

no. sat

*Art and Design 20.8 41.2 65.5 84.7 94.9 98.8 100.0 35289 4.5

subjects (19.4) (39.4) (63.4) (62.2) (93.7) (98.5) (100.0) (33782) (4.8) Biology 14.6 34.2 53.3 71.0 85.8 94.4 100.0 56534 ?7.3 (13.8) (32.5) (51.7) (69.6) (84.4) (93.7) (100,0) (51894) (7.0) Business Studies 7.6 26.7 50.2 71.4 88.2 94.9 100.0 33359 4.3 (7.7) (23.1) (44.5) (85.8) (82.2) (91.3) (100.0) (29100) (3.9) Chemistry 20.7 42.3 60.6 75.5 87.5 94.9 100.0 42458 5.5 (19.8) (40.7) (59.1) (74.1) (88.1) (94.1) (100.0) (40455) (5.5) *Classical subjects 24.7 46.5 66.8 82.7 91.8 96.4 100.00 6451 0.8 (24.9) (46.5) (66.9) (82.8) (92.1) (96.1) (100.0) (7345) (1-0)

Communication 12.2 30.8 48.5 65.6 80.4 89.7 100.0 4783 0.6 Studies (11-5) (27.7) (44.7) (61.7) (77.7) (88.1) (100.0) (5077) (0.7) Computing 9.7 22.6 40.6 8 60.4 77.6 88.8 100.0 12149 1.6 (10.5) (23.4) (41.5) (60.9) (77.8) (89.0) (100.0) (10697) (1.4) Economics 18.5* 33.8 52.5 70.5 83.8 91.9 100.0 20873 2.7 (15-0) (31.1) (49.2) (66.9) (81.7) (91-1) (100.0) (24580) (3.3) *English 14.3 33.2 55.9 77.5 92.0 97. 100.0 93546 12.1

(14.5) (33.9) (55.7) (76.8) (91.1) (97.3) (100.0) (86627) (12.0)

Expressive Arts 10.2 26.9 50.8 72.5 87.7 94.1 100.0 10652 1.4 (10-1) (28-9) (49-8) (70.4) (88-0) (94.3) (100-0) (9819) (1.3) French 20.2 40.1 59.7 76.4 83.5 95.4 100.0 25916 313 (20.9) (38.9) (59.2) (78-5) (89.0) (95.9) (100.0) (27490) (3,7) General Studies 13.6 30.0 48.8 88.4 84.2 93.8 100.0 73114 9.4

(14.0) (30.2) (49.4) (68.9) (84.1) (935) (100.0) (63454) (8.6) Geography 12.0 34.0 57.2 76.6 89.9 96.8 100.0 43641 5.6 (13.8) (31.9) (30.9) (69.8) (83.4) (92.0) (100.0) (42876) (5.8) German 23.9 42.8 80.8 77.4 89.2 95.7 100.0 10561 1.4 (23.6) (41.9) (60.8) (77.6) (89-8) (96.3) (100.0) (10719) (1.5) History 14.7 33.9 54.5 73.2 86-5 93.9 100.0 42547 5.5 (14.5) (31.9) (52.7) (71.8) (85.8) (93.8) (100.0) (43355) (5.9) Home Economics 9.6 26.7 48.5 70.9 85.9 94.1 100.0 2512 0.3 (10.8) (29.2) (51.3) (72.4) (88.8) (93.7) (100.0) (2669) (0.4

Law 11.4 23.7 40.5 57.4 73.0 84.1 100.0 11550 1.5

(10.8) (22.0) (38.6) (56.1) (71.5) (83.0) (100.0) (11982) 1.6

Mathematics 27.0 47.2 64.3 78.3 88.7 04.8 100.0 69142 8.0

(26.7) (46.0) (63.0) (77.1) (88.0) (94.4) (100.0) (67442) (9.1)

*Media/Film/TV/Studies 10.9 28.2 58.5 80.8 93.5 97.8 100.0 11517 1.5

(10.6) (28.3) (57.5) (82.3) (94.4) (98.2) (100.0) (8883) (1.2)

Music 19.2 40.0 64.0 82.6 93.6 98.1 100.0 6916 0.9

(19.3) (39.7) (63.0) (82.0) (93.5) (96.4) (100.0) (6518) (0.9)

Other Modern Langs 30.4 54.2 71.3 83.9 90.9 95.0 100.0 5501 0.7

(29.4) (51.5) (70.3) (82.9) (91.3) (95.7) (100.0) (5431) (0.7)

Physics 21.5 42.9 61.2 76.5 87;8 95.0 100.0 33508 4.3

(20.6) (39.7) (57.6) (73.1) (85.9) (94.2) (100.0) (32801) (4.4)

Political Studies 13.8 36.9 59.9 78.0 88.6 94.2 100;0 10927 1.4

(14.6) (35.9) (57.3) (75.9) (88.3) (93.9) (100.0) (11292) (1.5)

Psychology 11.0 28.4 47.8 66.2 80.6 90.2 100.0 27209 3.5

(11.2) (28.1) (48.4) (64.3) (79.4) (89.2) (100.0) (23877) (3.2)

Religious Studies 14.1 33.1 57.0 77.4 89.9 95.6 100.0 9281 1.2

(14.3) (34.1) (57.7) (77.5) (89.7) (95.7) (100.0) (9053) (1.2)

Science 11.4 26.8 48.4 68.5 85.3 94.8 100.0 5621 0.7 (11.0) (26.4) (47.2) (68.5) (84.9) (93.9) (100.0) (5141) (0.7)

Sociology 11.0 27.1 43.4 80.3 75.9 85.7 100.0 30139 3.9

(10.9) (26.0) (42.4) (59.9) (74.6) (84.2) (100.0) (29871) (4.0)

Spanish 24.2 46.3 65.2 81.0 90.4 95.7 100.0 5826 0.7

(23.8) (45.6) (64.6) (79.8) (90.2) (85.6) (100.0) (5232) (0.7)

Sport/PE Studies 8.1 22.3 44.0 69.6 88.4 96.8 100.0 13102 1.7

(6.7) (20.1) (42.7) (68.8) (88.6) (96.6) (100.0) (9732) (1.3)

* Technical subjects 12.8 27.8 52.2 74.9 89.7 96.8 100.0 11640 1.5

(12.4) (26.9) (50.6) (73.5) (88.3) (96.2) (100.0) (11061) (1.5) Welsh 18.6 43.2 66.9 84.4 96.7 99.5 100.0 957 1.2

(17.1) (41.2) (07.7) (85.9) (90.2) (9.2) (100.0) (974) (0.1)

All Other Subjects 12.5 29.9 47.8 64.3 77.9 85.8 100.0 9095 1.2

(12.8) (30.2) (45.8) (82.0) (75.7) (85.0) (100.0) (9934) (1.3)

TOTAL 16.0 34.9 55.2 73.7 87.1 94.5 100.0 776115 100.0

(18.0) (34.0) (53.8) (72.1) (85.8) (93.6) (100.0) (739163) (100.0)

* These titles cover a range of related subjects

Science includes all science subjects except Biology, Chemistry and Physics

Other Modern Languages includes all languages except French, German, Spanish and Welsh.

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