GCSE trends: what this year’s results tell us

Foreign languages ​​have not been compulsory as a GCSE for almost two decades. Meanwhile, their popularity plummeted – and the trend has continued this year.

GCSE French had 129,419 entries in 2022, down 2% from last year, down 16% from 10 years ago and a whopping 62% drop from 2002.

It’s a similar story for German, which had 36,327 entries this year, down 5% from last year, down 37% from 2012 and a massive drop of 71. % since 2002.

Spanish had grown in popularity in recent years, but it also saw a decline in 2022, with 112,845 admissions, down 2% from 2021.

Spanish is already the most popular foreign language at A level. In a few years – if its numbers start to rise again – it could also be the most popular at GCSEs.

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– Small tongues bloom

It’s not all bad news for languages, though.

The number of entries for subjects classified in “other modern languages” has increased sharply this year by 47%, after falling in 2020 and 2021.

There were a total of 36,445 entries in the 15 languages ​​that make up this category, the highest number ever recorded and – perhaps symbolically – more than the 36,327 entries for German.

Within the group, the most popular choices were Polish (6,003 entries), Chinese (5,504), Arabic (4,931) and Italian (4,897).

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– Home economics has the greatest gender imbalance

GCSE Home Economics was officially dropped from the curriculum several years ago, but just over 2,000 candidates took the subject in 2022, 98% of whom were girls – the biggest gender imbalance of any subject , as was the case in 2021.

Other subjects where girls made up the vast majority of enrollment this year included performing/expressive arts (95%), health and social care (94%) and social sciences (70%).

Boys made up the largest number of entries into construction (90%), engineering (83%) and computer science (79%), as well as the small category called ‘other technological subjects’ (95%).

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– Music sounds sour note

The long-term decline in GCSE music appears to have resumed, after a brief respite in 2020 and 2021 when admissions rose slightly.

This year, the topic had 37,705 entries, down 4% from last year and down 19% from 10 years ago.

Drama also continues to decline, with 57,308 admissions this year, down 6% from 2021 and down 25% since 2012.

Completing a bleak picture for the creative industries, the subject of performing arts saw just 8,200 entries this year, a 6% drop from last year and a 61% drop over the past year. last decade.

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– IT exceeds PE

In what appears to be a symbolic moment, for the first time, the number of entries for GCSE Computing (81,120) has surpassed that of PE (79,924).

Computing was first assessed as a GCSE subject in 2014 and since then the popularity of sitting at a keyboard, rather than running and jumping, has grown steadily.

Admissions for IT were just 16,773 in 2014. There were almost five times that number in 2022.

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– Business is booming

The recent growth in GCSE business studies shows no signs of slowing down. There were 107,283 registrations this year, a 5% increase over last year and a 52% increase over ten years ago.

The subject is currently the 14th most popular choice in the GCSE, but is likely to rise in the rankings in the coming years, particularly if French (currently 12th) and Spanish (13th) continue to decline or stabilize .

It won’t be long before business studies regains the level of popularity it enjoyed in the early 2000s, when it had 125,605 entries in 2003.

– The winners and losers of the decade

A decade ago, some 12.7% of GCSE entries – around one in eight people – were in humanities subjects, such as geography, history and religious studies.

This year, the figure was 14.4%, or about one in seven people.

During the same period, the share of admissions represented by the performing arts and media fell from 3.9% to 2.4%.

Art, design and technology also took a hit, with these subjects accounting for 8.1% of admissions in 2012 and 5.1% in 2022.

But science has remained stable, accounting for just over a quarter of all admissions in 2012 and 2022.

IT topics increased slightly from 1.0% to 1.6%.

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