It’s Different for Girls: The influence of schools
A report looking at the progression to A-level physics in 2011 from different types of school.
Using data from the National Pupil Database, which tracks pupils as they go through school, the report looks at differences in the patterns of choice of A-level physics for girls and boys in different types of schools.
Main findings from the report:
- 49% of maintained co-ed schools sent no girls on to take A-level physics in 2011. The figure for all secondary schools is 46%
- Girls were almost two and a half times more likely to go on to do A-level physics if they came from a girls’ school rather than a co-ed school (for all types of maintained schools in England)
- Twice the percentage of girls who went on to do A-level physics came from a school with a sixth form, compared to schools that only teach up to age 16 (for co-ed maintained schools in England)
- For maintained schools in England, the positive effect of single-sex education on girls’ choice of physics post-16 is not replicated in the other sciences
The report includes recommendations to government and its agencies, to head teachers and to parents. These include:
- The large number of schools that send no girls on to study A-level physics is unacceptable. Co-ed schools should have a target to exceed the current national average of 20% of A-level physics students being girls.
- Gender equity needs to be part of the OFSTED inspection criteria, so that a school cannot be judged outstanding if there are clear participation issues that are not being addresses.
We have also produced briefing sheets for senior school leaders and for parents with recommendations and other resources.
For senior school leaders: It's Different for Girls: How can senior leaders in schools support the take-up of A-level physics by girls? (PDF, 744 KB)
For parents: It's Different for Girls: How can parents support the take-up of A-level physics by girls? (PDF, 1 MB)