A level physics – 35,000 target reached

15 August 2013

A target to see more than 35,000 students sitting physics has been hit a year early.

For the seventh consecutive year, the number of students choosing to sit A levels in physics has risen, from a low of 27,368 in 2006 to 35,569 this year.

This is a rise from 34,509 in 2012 to 35,569 this year, when the overall cohort of students sitting A level exams for all subjects is down by 1.1% on last year.

The government target of 35,000, achieved a year early, indicates particular success for the Institute of Physics (IOP) and its government-funded Stimulating Physics Network (SPN), a network originally established to reach the government target of at least 35,000 students sitting A level physics by 2014. 

Professor Sir Peter Knight, President of IOP, said, “We’re delighted to see the increase continuing and to have hit the target of 35,000 a year early.

“Our Stimulating Physics Network is addressing the chronic problem of too few specialist physics teachers in the UK by offering free, bespoke, in-school training to non-specialist science teachers.

“Thanks to SPN, these teachers are gaining the confidence to offer inspiring physics lessons and ensuring students receive an exciting taste of physics before they are asked to choose the subjects they will continue to study at A level and beyond.”

To find out more about physics teaching and the work of SPN, see here

Major concerns do, however, continue to be raised about the very low proportion of girls choosing to study physics. 

Sir Peter adds, “The proportion of females sitting physics remains low with only one in five (20.6%) of those choosing to sit physics being female. There is still a huge amount of work to be done to ensure girls are not denied their entitlement to a good physics education.

“Not least, we know that anachronistic gender stereotypes persist in many classrooms and these contribute to an outrageous unfairness that we continue to fight against.”


A Level201120122013% change from 2012
Girl/Boy ratio20.8%/79.2%21.3%/78.7%20.6%/79.4% 

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