The rise of maths and science as pupils study hard to learn STEM skills

More and more UK pupils are embracing the study of science and maths in the race to impress top universities and employers.

Rising numbers of school and sixth form pupils across the UK are choosing to study science and maths.

The overall popularity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects shows students are having to compete hard to impress top universities of their academic prowess and give themselves an edge when it comes to a competitive employment market.

The Government says the rise of STEM qualifications taken at both A-level and GCSE reflects its drive to introduce the English baccalaureate ‘EBacc’ performance measure. 

This was brought in to show the percentage of students achieving A* to C in English, Mathematics, sciences (including Computer science), languages and humanities (Geography or History) at GCSE. It is now expected that all pupils will take these subjects going forward.

GCSE STEM entries rose 78,000 in a year. This year’s exam results show entries in Maths up 24,827 on 2014, a rise of 3.4%. Computer science entries were up 18,641 (a whopping 111.1% rise), Science saw a growth of 20,523 entries (5.5%) and Engineering attracted 1,882 more students (37.4%).

Overall entries for girls in STEM subjects were also up by more than 30,000, including more than 14,000 in Maths.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “A generation of young people from all backgrounds are now securing the GCSEs that help give them the widest range of options later in life - whether looking for a rewarding job or a top apprenticeship.

“This not only benefits the students involved, it means our workforce for the future is properly trained to compete in a global economy.”

The GCSE news came a week after A-level results showed a surge in interest in Maths – with numbers up more than 20% in the past five years.

In total the Government said A-level students are switching their attentions to core ‘facilitating’ subjects that open the door to study at the nation’s top universities. Study of core academic subjects rose by 15,000 entries in the last year while numbers taking general studies – often not recognized by universities - have dropped by almost 30,000 since 2010.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “This year’s A level students are among the best qualified in a generation and I want to congratulate them on the results, which reflect the dedication of teachers and young people across the country.”

The trend mirrors that of GCSEs with study of further maths up 6.9% from 2014, Computing rising by 29.1%, Geography increasing 12.7%, modern foreign languages rising by 3.8%, English literature 7.1% higher, History attracting 7.1% more entries and Maths up by 4.4%.

The number of A level entries in Science and Maths subjects has increased by more than 38,000 since 2010, a rise of 17.3%. There were also 16,000 more STEM A-level entries for women, part of a bid to break down gender barriers in such fields.

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