A level headline figures: pass rate up for 29th year in succession to 97.8% ( I started teaching 29 years ago, it must be down to me) Maths and Science has increased substantially ( Chemistry by nearly 10%) and sadly Modern Foreign Languages are down sharply yet again.
What about the subjects that depend on computers? I’m interested in these subjects as they are ‘new’ in that twenty five years ago they did not exist but also are 'mature' in that not much has changed technically speaking in their delivery for ten years.
Computing, ICT and Media/Film/TV Studies? These are subjects that really make use of computers. Here are a few digested ( i.e. manipulated for effect...you can look up the raw data for your self if you want to) facts and figures.
Fewer than 4,000 students took Computing A Level, much the same as last year though the number of girls taking the subject was down 27% to a very select 302 ... or put another way fewer than one girl in every ten large schools is that weird. The gender-related mirror image of Computing was Performing Arts if you are interested. It follows that the quest for the ‘geek-thesp’ is up there with The Hunting of the Snark.
A Level ICT remained much the same as last year in terms of numbers at about 12,000 of which over one third were girls. This is encouraging, I think, especially since GCSE ICT is still in free fall and possibly it positively reflects ICT’s business orientated approach. Maybe the Business-Law-Accounting-ICT pre-university AS/A Level combo ‘MBA’ is a runner?
Media and Film/TV studies. Despite the recession and the paucity of employment opportunities numbers were up again if only by a small percentage. Approx 33,000 took the exam which makes it a major subject in that this is more than for subjects like Physics, Geography or Economics. Boys and girls were about equal in numbers. Clearly whatever happens to UK PLC in the coming years will be well documented.
In the last 29 years little has changed other than the pass rate. Computers have arrived but have only carved out a niche rather than sweeping the board.
Computing A Level remains as a minority sport as it always was when I was at school and gender dividing lines are intact; girls that do computing are as abnormal* as boys who do the stage and Science and Maths attract mostly boys (70%) whereas Psychology, Sociology and Languages mostly girls (70%)...so nothing new here then.
ICT is becoming a business tool and so should survive well in the future. In my opinion given the right environment ICT could become a real winner.