Press release

Wellcome Trust Head of Education comments on GCSE results

Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland today received the results of their GCSE examinations. Overall, the results are very encouraging, with the number of students taking triple sciences continuing to rise.

Dr Hilary Leevers, Head of Education and Learning at the Wellcome Trust, comments: "Congratulations to all students getting their GCSE results today. The continued rise in triple science entries should be celebrated, with a doubling of students taking these GCSEs over the last five years. Many organisations have worked hard to improve the teaching and student interest in science and mathematics, such as the Wellcome Trust's investment in Project ENTHUSE, which funds high-quality professional development for teachers and technicians. It is great to see that these efforts are clearly paying off with sustained growth in science and maths GCSEs and A levels over recent years.

"The fall in top grades at triple science suggests that the value and pleasure of studying all of the sciences at GCSE are being recognised by more and more students, not just those likely to secure the highest grades. Given that the rate of A* and A grades fell in mathematics and science GCSEs, we must ensure that students get the message that it is perfectly possible to progress well in science and mathematics at A level with less than an A grade at GCSE.

"The pattern in Northern Ireland continues to be worrisome, with the number of students studying physics and chemistry GCSEs still lagging behind the number taking biology, and markedly fewer girls taking physics than boys. Unlike English and Welsh students, students in Northern Ireland are not required to study all three sciences at Key Stage 4."

Dr Leevers adds: "As the government is currently reviewing the Key Stage 4 curriculum for England, it is vital to recognise the importance of studying all three sciences at this stage: for the population in general, to provide the bedrock for those going onto further study, and especially for those who go on to teach science."