Religion beats IT in GCSE options

The number of students passing GCSE examinations in information technology rose to an all-time high this year. But IT pupils were...

The number of students passing GCSE examinations in information technology rose to an all-time high this year. But IT pupils were still significantly outnumbered by those studying Religious Education.

The number of students sitting a GCSE in IT rose by 14.2% to 111,890 in 2001. However, the numbers opting for the GCSE short course in Religious Education rose by 20%.

Tim Conway, a policy director at the Computer Software and Services Association (CSSA), said: "We welcome the increase in interest at [IT] GCSE level. Despite the current [industry] downturn, there is now and will be in the future many interesting careers relying on an IT skills base."

IT pass rates were high, with almost 60% of students earning a C grade or above, a 3% increase compared to last year.

Some 60% of the IT candidates were male, and there was no narrowing of the gender gap from last year. However, a higher proportion of female students sat the IT GCSE compared to the AS-level exam, where only 29% were female.

"There is still more that needs to be done to attract female students to IT. At A-level the environment can become a little female-hostile in schools," said Conway.

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