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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
Girls stay ahead in GCSEs
colchester high
Celebrations at Colchester High School, Essex
Girls have achieved better grades than boys in almost every GCSE subject this year - and the gender gap is widening rather than closing.

Some 670,000 pupils in the UK are receiving the results of exams set by the English and Welsh examining boards - 5.5 million GCSEs in all.

The overall figures show a slight improvement in the numbers achieving grades A* to C - up by almost one percentage point to 56.6%.

And the number of pupils passing at all grades, A* to G, has increased by 0.2% to 97.9%.

Click below for complete subject-by-subject tables of all the results at:

There has been an increase in the pass rate every year since GCSEs were launched over a decade ago - and the exam boards say they now expect the figure to have reached its peak.

Exam scripts
There were 5.5 million GCSEs taken this summer by 670,000 pupils
But the gender gap, highlighted in last week's A-level results, continues to widen as girls continue to outperform boys in GCSEs.

In the top A* to C grades - the basis of league tables - girls outperformed boys by 61.1% to 51.9%, a gap of 9.2 percentage points. In Wales the gap was 11 points.

But in Northern Ireland, where most students got their results on Tuesday, 71.3% who took the local CCEA exam board's papers achieved grades A* to C.

In the English and Welsh boards there has been an increase in the proportion of boys gaining the top A* and A grades - up 0.4 to 13.1%. But girls have improved even more - up 0.8 to 18.4%.

Even in subjects in which boys have traditionally been more successful, girls have pulled ahead. This year's results for physics show that girls have overtaken boys in getting the largest share of the top A* grades.

And boys have shown little sign of catching up in the subjects in which girls have traditionally performed well, such as English in which 16.7% of girls achieved A* or A grades compared to 9.7% of boys.

More entries

Maths is one of the few areas in which boys have maintained a lead in the A* and A grades, if only by a margin of 0.4 percentage point.

But among maths candidates scoring A* to C grades, the girls are outperforming the boys.

There has been an overall increase in the number of GCSEs taken this summer, which the exam boards attribute in part to a demographic bulge in 16 year olds and also to students taking more exams - with the current average being eight or nine GCSEs per pupil.

Exam boards have also identified information technology as the subject growing fastest in popularity, with an increase of almost 10% in candidates.

But there have been falls in the numbers of pupils taking geography and home economics.

Latin lovers

Although relatively few pupils took Latin, over 60% of the 10,000 candidates achieved an A* or A grade.

This year also saw an increase in pupils taking "short course" GCSEs - by 21,000 to over 275,000. These qualifications are worth half a GCSE and involve half the size of the full syllabus.

In particular, there were increases in short course GCSEs in religious education, physical education and information technology.

Vocational exams, GNVQs, suffered an overall decline in registrations, offset in part by rises in specific subjects such as information technology.

Popularity stakes

The table below shows the various GCSE subjects in order of their popularity with candidates, as shown by the number of entries.

Mathematics 673056 12.28
English 647436 11.81
English Literature 512572 9.35
Science: double award 489913 8.94
Design & Technology 424468 7.74
French 341004 6.22
Geography 251605 4.59
History 213346 3.89
Art 201296 3.67
German 133659 2.44
Religious studies 116234 2.12
Physical Education 102511 1.87
Business studies 100926 1.84
Information Technology 97963 1.79
Drama 89107 1.63
Science: single award 66036 1.20
Spanish 49973 0.91
Biology 48715 0.89
Chemistry 46917 0.86
Physics 46627 0.85
Music 45797 0.84
Home Economics 45093 0.82
Other modern languages 29164 0.53
Other social sciences 27859 0.51
Humanities 19943 0.36
Other sciences 16022 0.29
Combined subjects 11351 0.21
Latin 10560 0.19
Welsh: second language 9166 0.17
Economics 6220 0.11
Welsh: first language 4157 0.08
Classical Civilisation 3868 0.07
Welsh Literature 3348 0.06
Social Science 2638 0.05
Other technology 1666 0.03
Greek 934 0.02
All other subjects 100857 1.84

Note: Maths and English are compulsory.

  • Pupils in Northern Ireland who sat some or all of their exams with the local CCEA board got their results on Tuesday.

    The BBC's Sue Littlemore
    "Some are blaming a culture of Laddism"
    The BBC's Robert Hall
    "They joined the record breakers"



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