Why are 98% of students turning their back in ICT?

The number of students studying ICT at GCSE level has risen for the third consecutive year, but a staggering 98 percent of pupils are still ultimately snubbing technology based courses at secondary school level.

Recent figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications showed of some startling facts and stats; 

  • The total number of students sitting ICT GCSEs has risen an impressive 40%, from 69,234 in 2013 to 96,811 this year.

  • Since 2011, the number of pupils studying the ICT GCSE has steadily increased year-on-year, with current levels sitting at almost DOUBLE the opening figures.
  • Pupils achieving grades A* to C has dropped in 2014, falling from 69.4 percent in 2013 to 66.4 percent.

  • The more technically focused Computer Coding GCSE has also witnessed a dramatic increase in student uptake. This year, 16,773 students sat the exam, a four-fold increase from the 4,253 that studied the subject last year, when it formed part of the ICT GCSE.

Whilst the gender gap between the number of male and female ICT students remains a concern, both sexes showed an increased interest in the subject.

  • In 2014 55,346 males sat ICT GCSEs compared with 41,465 females, further emphasising the fact that the industry gender divide starts at a grassroots level.

Despite this positive overall growth in student uptake, it must be also noted that the general participation levels in ICT based GCSEs remains comparatively low when benchmarked against other subjects.

While the continued growth in overall student numbers is positive, when V3's annual A-level results were posted last week it showed that the number of students studying ICT subjects at A-level had actually declined, with less than 10,000 students sitting the ICT A-level exam. These startling statistics have rightly got industry and education experts questioning whether technology subjects and skills are actually seen as valuable when pupils begin to consider further education. 

To start addressing concerns over the lack of IT skills, the UK is pursuing initiatives to encourage more interest in technology subjects. An overhauled curriculum for England and Wales will be rolled out in September, making the teaching of basic programming and algorithms to school children compulsory, in an effort to improve the teaching of digital skills.

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