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GCSE and AS level entry data shows sharp decline in essential subjects, says NAHT

New data from the exams regulator Ofqual about the popularity of secondary school subjects shows that entries in non-EBacc subjects decreased by 13 per cent compared to 2017. AS level entries have continued to fall with almost 60 per cent fewer subjects taken during the same period. In 2017 almost 150,000 students took AS level mathematics. In 2018 that figure had shrunk dramatically to just over 70,000. 

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “It is now impossible to argue that the EBacc measure is not having a narrowing effect on young people’s choices at GCSE. These reforms put schools in an impossible situation where they must reduce the opportunities they offer to pupils in order to satisfy an arbitrary government target. 

“When we surveyed our members, 79 per cent reported that the Ebacc is having a negative impact on the curriculum offer in their school.” 

Mr Whiteman continued: “Students’ experiences of a narrower curriculum at GCSE is now having an impact on their sixth form studies. The AS level qualification has been decimated, with every subject group in sharp decline. Thousands of young people are not choosing crucial subjects like the sciences, art and design, which offer legitimate pathways into employment. 

“The government needs to answer the question about whether their reforms to secondary qualifications are really meeting the needs of students and giving them a realistic chance to succeed in a post-Brexit world.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363


Email :
press.office@naht.org.uk