Science and Maths on the rise

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The number of students completing A-level maths this year has risen 6% to 77,001, following a 12% increase last year.

Numbers taking science A-levels also rose, and at a similar rate. Biology and chemistry entries rose by 4%, to 57,854 and 44,051 respectively, while entries to A-level physics rose by 5%. The number taking physics remains well below the other sciences, however, at 30,976.

Professor Sir John Holman, Director of the National Science Learning Centre, said: “The steady growth in the number of students taking A-level Sciences has continued this year, and there has been further impressive growth in Mathematics and Further Mathematics.  There is still a long way to go, but it is clear that we are seeing the beginning of a renaissance in science and mathematics in schools and colleges.  The days of university Physics and Chemistry departments closing due to lack of students are a long way behind us – indeed, the story now is of the fierce competition for places to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects at university. 

“The growth in Sciences and Mathematics uptake is also a sign of the growing realism among young people and their parents about the subject choices that give them the best chances of a well-paid and interesting job.

“The challenge now is to maintain growth year-on-year – and the numbers taking AS levels this summer suggest that this increase will continue in 2011.  However, if students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are to benefit from the value of Science and Mathematics A-levels, it is important that they get good careers advice early on.  Schools and colleges need to give students clear guidance on the A-level subject choices that are most useful to their careers, and not allow them to be steered towards the subjects that seem easiest, but have less value in the increasingly competitive university entrance and jobs market.”

A-level candidate numbers, all UK:

  • A Level Mathematics numbers are up from 72,475 in 2009 to 77,001 in 2010, a 6.2% increase
  • A level Further Mathematics numbers are up from 10,473 in 2009 to 11,682, a 11% increase
  • A Level Physics numbers are up from 29,436 to 30,976, a 5.2% increase
  • A Level Chemistry numbers are up from 42,491 to 44,051, a 3.7% increase
  • A Level Biology numbers are up from 55,485 to 57,854, a 4.3% increase

AS level candidates, all UK:

  • AS Mathematics numbers are up from 103,312 to 112,847, a 9.2% increase
  • AS Further Mathematics numbers are up from 13,164 to 14,884, a 13.1% increase
  • AS Physics numbers are up from 41,955 to 45,534, a 8.5% increase
  • AS Chemistry numbers are up from 58,473 to 62,232, a 6.4% increase
  • AS Biology numbers are up from 79,112  to 83,408, a 5.4% increase 


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