The Press Association (via the Mail) is reporting that a bid to encourage teenagers to study traditional academic subjects may have inadvertently resulted in fewer youngsters taking GCSEs in the separate sciences…
Figures show that exam entries for biology, chemistry and physics have fallen this year, after years of increases.
This decline could be an “unintended consequence” of the English Baccalaureate – a measure introduced by the government in 2010 which recognises youngsters who gain at least a C grade in a range of academic subjects at GCSE, according to Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment research at Buckingham University.
The Department for Education insisted that there were no evidence that an apparent decline in entries to single sciences was down to the Ebacc.
To pass the science part of the Ebacc, teenagers need to score a C or higher in core science GCSE and additional science GCSE, get A*-C passes in double science or take three separate science GCSEs out of biology, chemistry, physics and computer science, and gain at least a C in two of them.
Statistics published by the exams regulator Ofqual earlier this year showed that as of April, biology entries for Year 11 students were down 12% to 128,000, chemistry was down 11% to 130,000 and physics entries were down 9% to 132,000. But entries for GCSE Science were up 32% to 152,000 and additional science entries were up 18% to 297,000.
Prof Smithers said that these falls reverse growth in the separate sciences that have been seen since around 2006, when then Chancellor Gordon Brown introduced a new initiative which gave schools incentives to offer separate science GCSEs.
“There’s a move back to overall science,” he said. “Why is this? I think it is probably an unintended consequence of the English baccalaureate.
“The rules for the EBacc in relation to science are you can submit two separate sciences but students have to have been entered for all three at GCSE.”
Prof Smithers added: “An easier way for schools to enter with the Ebacc is to enter for science and additional science.”
He warned that the dip could have a knock-on effect and “pull the ladder away” from subjects like A-level physics, if youngsters do not take a GCSE in the subject. Fresh figures on entries to each subject will be published on Thursday, when hundreds of thousands of teenagers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their GCSE results…
More at: Numbers fall in separate sciences
Does the EBacc explanation from Professor Smithers make sense? Has your/your child’s school moved away from triple (or individual) science to a core/additional science combination? If this results in less science overall being studied (two modules per discipline instead of three) is that a serious concern? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link!