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Computing GCSE takes centre stage as exam results are released

Stem subjects shine in GCSE results as 30,000 more girls sit exams compared with last year

The number of students taking computing at GCSE has more than doubled from 17,000 last year to 35,000 this year, as students receive their GCSE results today.

The results, released by the Joint Council for Qualifications, found that exam entries for science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects jumped by 78,000 compared to last year.

Computer science entries were up 111.1%, engineering was up 37.4%, science up 5.5% and maths up 3.4%.

The number of girls taking Stem subjects increased by more than 30,000, with 14,000 of them taking maths.

This is the first year that computing has officially been part of the UK national curriculum, after the government announced that, from September 2014, schools would be required to teach computing to students age five to 16, instead of ICT. The aim was to introduce children to computational thinking from an early age.

But last year, a survey by MyKindaCrowd revealed that teachers were not receiving the support they said they needed to introduce the computing curriculum. However, today's exam results revealed that 65% of computing students achieved A*-C grades.

The number of pupils taking ICT as a subject rose by 15% to almost 112,000, of which 68% achieved at least a C grade.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Today marks the culmination of years of hard work for pupils, teachers and parents and I want to congratulate them on their achievements.

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“Thanks to our reforms focused on extending opportunity, a generation of young people from all backgrounds are now securing the GCSEs that help give them the widest range of options later in life – whether looking for a rewarding job or a top apprenticeship. This not only benefits the students involved, it means our workforce for the future is properly trained to compete in a global economy.”

CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall said: “The huge leap in numbers of those studying computing is the icing on the cake. Digital skills are essential in the modern world and economy, and for keeping the UK at the forefront of technological innovations. However, the fact that less than one in five computing students are women means we are missing out on a huge pool of digital talent.”

The CBI has called on the government to conduct a review of the education system for 14 to 18-year-olds. “Business wants exams at 16 years old to be a staging post on a path to 18 for all young people, not an end in themselves,” said Hall. “That is why we want the government to conduct a wholesale review of 14 to 18-year-old education with the aim of creating a system that delivers academic, vocational and combined options for all young people.

“Employers value attitudes and resilience just as much as academic results, so we must make sure exams are not the only target our schools and colleges have.”

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