Russell Group warning on GCSEs

The Russell Group has warned that private school pupils are more likely than state school counterparts to choose science and languages subjects at GCSE, which could give them an advantage in university entry.

August 22, 2013

GCSE results, released today, showed a fall in the number of top grades awarded, for the second successive year.

Wendy Piatt, director general of the group of the Russell Group of large research intensive universities, said students in independent and grammar schools are more likely to choose sciences and languages subjects. She called the divide a “real shame”, adding that it stems from a lack of support by “schools and career services” in providing “the right advice and guidance”.

Dr Piatt said pupils at private and grammar schools are more likely to opt for single sciences at independent schools, highlighting that these students were more likely to take Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects at A-level. 

She also hoped that more students will choose languages to “fully engage” with the world in “business, diplomacy and academia”.

Dr Piatt encouraged all pupils to choose subjects that provide the “best possible preparation for their chosen degree”, advising students to “think carefully” and “choose A-level or equivalent subjects wisely”.

The proportion of A* and A grades at GCSE fell from 22.4 per cent to 21.3 per cent this year.

For the first time in the exam’s 25-year history, the overall pass rate also fell marginally.

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Reader's comments (1)

BTEC qualifications are possibly more appropriate for students seeking degree level qualifications in some of the STEM subjects, particularly those directly relating to careers in commerce and industry such as technology, applied engineering and management. Similarly for Higher Apprenticeships (degree level 6 and CPD/Masters level 7) accredited by the professional institutes. The specialist technical academy, studio and UTC schools seem to be promoting this educational route.

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