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A levels results: Strong growth in STEM entries

Students across the UK received their A-Level results after 18 months of disrupted learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst learning conditions have proved to be far from ideal with multiple lockdowns, online learning and classroom support bubbles, we saw A-Level results at grade A and above rapidly increased - from 25.2% in 2019 (pre pandemic) to 44.3% in 2021. There will rightly be some concern over grade inflation, but given summer exams were cancelled, Department for Education has reassured the sector the results received through teacher-assessed grades are ‘fair and right’ for both the system and students.

Crucially, for manufacturers we have seen an increase in A-Level entries in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), as well as notable increases in Mathematics, Mathematics (further), Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Other Sciences and Computing, which will be welcomed by the sector looking to the yawning skills gap we face. Key findings include:

  • Maths remains the most popular subject at A level with a 3.8% increase in entries this year
  • 6.4% increase in STEM subjects, with 1.9% more girls taking A levels in Maths and 8.3% more in Physics, building on significant progress in this area since 2010
  • 5.8% rise in female A-level participants for STEM-focused programmes, including a 13.0% increase in computing

Here is a great breakdown of all the data from Education Policy Institute:

We know the pandemic has shown just how integral our science, technology, and industrial base is the UK and we hope these young people who embarked on these STEM subjects are inspired to join our sector to help to tackle the big societal challenges we face as we come out of the Covid crisis. As such, the manufacturing sector will be turning to the next generation, looking to bright, young minds to continue this trend of prosperity and expansion in the decade ahead.

We’ve been urging young people to look at the wealth of opportunities and options available to them including apprenticeships when considering their next steps. Our Technical Training Centre in Birmingham have been sharing these opportunities: And despite the difficult year, almost 6 in 10 employers are continuing to make these opportunities open and accessible to all young people across the whole of the UK.

GCSE results day – Science and maths on the up in both entries and awards

Completing years 10 and 11 in the most challenging of circumstances, involving multiple lockdowns, exam cancellations and the reality of living through a pandemic, students this morning across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been receiving their GCSE results.

Following a second year of cancelled examinations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, results have been decided by using teacher-assessed grades. Much to the similarity of students receiving their A-Level results. This was due to formal exams being cancelled as further disruptions were caused by the pandemic. Teacher-assessed grades are different to predicted grades, as they are based on teacher assessments of the student. Students were asked to upload samples of their work to support these assessed grades. A combination of in-class tests, mock exams and coursework were used to help support the teachers’ decisions.

As seen with the A-Level results, there are noticeable increases in more studying Sciences and Mathematics. Key findings include:

  • Physics (+4.0%), Chemistry (+3.9%) and Biology (3.3%) all within the top 10 percentage increases in entries
  • Mathematics entries increased by 0.27% and outcomes increased at 7/A by +1.9pp, and by 2.8pp at 4/C
  • Science: Double Award (15.6% of total entry) and Mathematics (14.1% of total entry) are still the two largest entry subjects
  • Biology and Chemistry are 9th (3.2% of total entry) and 10th (3.1% of total entry) respectively
  • Female students continue to outperform male students overall and had better outcomes in most sciences, barring Physics where male students performed better

The increase in the number of students sitting GCSEs in maths and sciences with more achieving the highest grades in these subjects is great news for the manufacturing sector which needs an injection of talent to power Britain’s innovative industrial base.

A career in manufacturing, whether it be down the degree route or coming into the sector as a highly paid apprentice, brings with it amazing opportunities in high growth areas like the digital and green energy sectors which are so desperately needed to carve a route out of the global climate change crisis.



Blog / Make UK