Last week the DfE published a whole raft of data about the outcomes for GCSE and other examinations taken at Key Stage 4. Most commentators have looked at outcomes. However, there is also some interesting data in the tables about entries by different types of school and the subjects that their students are entered for at the end of KS4. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/gcse-and-equivalent-results-2017-to-2018-provisional (and in particular the subject tables and within that file, tables S8 and S9.)
|GCSE entries in selected subjects of pupils at the end of key stage 4 by school admission basis of state-funded mainstream schools (as a percentage of pupils at the end of key stage 4 in each school type)||Selective schools||Non-selective schools in highly selective areas||Other non-selective schools|
|English, Mathematics & Science||100||98||98|
|Any Design & Technology||24||17||21|
|Any Modern Language||89||35||46|
|Art and Design||22||29||27|
As might be expected, almost all pupils study English, mathematics and some form of science to the end of KS4. The type of science differs between schools, with selective schools highly likely to put the majority of their students in for separate sciences, whereas non-selective schools are much more likely to opt for combined science. Indeed, in Physics, the figures are 82% for pupils in selective schools; 26% for pupils in non-selective systems and just 18% for pupils in nonselective schools in areas with selective schools. Much of this disparity may be due to the lack of teachers of Physics with sufficient subject knowledge to sustain examination groups at KS4. This lack of Physics in non-selective schools no doubt has an impact on ’A’ level numbers and thus university entrants.
There is also a disparity in modern languages between the percentage studying the subject at the end of KS4 in selective schools and non-selective schools. French still remains the most popular language although Spanish is not far behind. The teaching of German at this level now seems largely confined to selective schools in the state sector.
Although non-selective schools produce higher percentages of candidates in art than do selective schools, the same is not the case with music, where selective schools have a higher percentage still taking the subject at the end of KS4. Selective schools also have higher percentages studying business studies and design and technology than non-selective schools.
There must be a suspicion that pupils in selective schools study more subjects than their counterparts in many non-selective schools.
How far it is easier for selective schools to recruit staff in the subjects where training numbers don’t meet DfE projections cannot be determined from these percentages. However, it might be a fair assumption that selective schools may generally find recruitment less of a challenge even in high costs areas. Such schools may also find retention of staff less of an issue.