'Championing the rights of children'

Pupils in some areas are not offered 'vital' GCSEs

Garry Fri 13 Feb 2015 09:45

Pupils in some parts of England are unlikely to take exams that could be vital to their job prospects - such as sciences and languages - according to an analysis of exam results.

Researchers examined GCSE statistics from 2013 and found in some authorities a third of schools did not offer triple science.

There are concerns such "subject deserts" could harm social mobility.

The government said thousands more pupils were now taking core subjects.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust education charity, said these were "very worrying findings" and further evidence of the "bleak correlation between educational opportunities and geography".

The analysis showing big variations in subject take-up has been carried out by the Open Public Services Network, which provides an independent assessment of public sector performance data.

Even if pupils have ability, they can face a lack of availability, with a wide variation in subjects offered by schools.

The study found that children in Kensington were four times more likely to be enrolled for a language GCSE than children in Middlesbrough.

And in terms of science, if pupils cannot take triple science - which leads to three separate GCSEs in physics, chemistry and biology - it can make it more difficult to take A-level science subjects needed for careers such as medicine.

'Challenging subjects'
There were six authorities where more than a third of schools did not offer triple science - Medway, Slough, Newcastle upon Tyne, Kingston-Upon-Hull, Knowsley and North East Lincolnshire.

This "severely limits" options after GCSEs and beyond school, says the research.

There are big differences in the proportion of pupils taking any sciences, with low take-up in parts of the North East and North West and coastal areas such as the Isle of Wight.

The findings show how opportunities can be "restricted because all the schools within a neighbourhood have decided not to offer more challenging subjects", said researcher Roger Taylor.

Read more... (BBC News - 11 February)