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A Level results show improved STEM uptake

olivia devan assistant asset engineer

More students took STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) A Levels this year than in any year over the last decade, despite an overall drop in entries of 2%.

Maths continues to be the most popular A Level Subject, according to the Department for Education, with entries up 2.5% on 2017, and up 26.8% compared to 2010.

The government figures also revealed a 3.4% rise in students taking STEM subjects, which is up 24% since 2010. This includes a 5.5% increase in girls sitting STEM A Levels – with the figure up 26.9% from 2018.

a level 2018 popularity

a level 2018 popularity

Source: Campaign for Science and Engineering

The Campaign for Science and Engineering (Case) says the increase in chemistry and biology popularity is down to girls, with the number of boys taking these subjects dropping from last year.

More girls also took computing, maths and physics, although Case said the figures for girls sitting physics and computing were still “stubbornly low”.

stem gender balance

stem gender balance

Source: Campaign for Science and Engineering

In terms of results, Case said attainment of A* - C increased for physics, maths and computing, but decreased for biology and chemistry, although none of these changes were by a significant amount.

Case deputy director Naomi Weir said: “It’s great to see many choosing to take STEM subjects and in particular to see the continued increase in uptake of computing. Uptake in some subjects remains very unequal, and computing is the least diverse of all subjects with females accounting for only 11.8% of entrants.

“As technology continues to shape the jobs of the future and as the number of routes for further study, training and work for young people grows, there must be sufficient advice and guidance to inform their choices pre and post-18. Otherwise the least advantaged and individuals from underrepresented groups will be poorly served.

“To support diversity and inclusion for all and to invest in the UK’s future, we’ve called on government to get serious about supporting careers provision in schools and colleges.”

Pictured: Network Rail assistant asset engineer Olivia Devan taking part in “People Like Me” workshops in Wales last year.

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