Data Bytes

Data Bytes

A regular series of graphics from our research team, highlighting the latest research findings and trends in education and assessment.

The most popular non-compulsory GCSE subjects in the period 2005-2014

Graph of the most popular non-compulsory GCSE subjects in the period 2005-2014

In Year 9, students choose the GCSE subjects that they will pursue for further study over the next two years. English, Maths, and Science are compulsory and some schools may require students to take certain additional subjects. However, children have the freedom to choose the remainder of the subjects they study. In this Data Byte, we look at the popularity of these non-compulsory GCSE subjects from 2005 to 2014.

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Do grades in one GCSE subject predict results in another?

Graph of conditional dependencies between GCSE grades (excerpt)

Next month, more than half a million students will sit down to write their GCSEs. In a previous Data Byte we showed how candidates often achieve their top three GCSE grades within clusters of related subjects, e.g. the sciences or the humanities. This month we look at this question in more detail, demonstrating how a candidate's grade in one subject affects their probability of a given grade in another subject.

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Popularity of Level 3 vocational subjects

Graph of popularity of Level 3 vocational subjects in England by centre type

Currently, there are a variety of vocational qualifications offered to post-16 learners as an alternative to academic qualifications (such as A levels) or other training options (such as apprenticeships). In this Data Byte, we show the most popular vocational subjects taken at Level 3 by 16–19 year olds in England.

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The international popularity of STEM subjects

STEM subjects are diverse and uptake varies widely by country, subject, and gender. In this Data Byte we present the uptake of STEM subjects in nine of the world’s largest economies, and highlight the differences between the sexes in students choosing to pursue these subjects at tertiary level.

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Re-sit rates for A Level subjects

A Level qualifications are an important requirement for university entry and other post-secondary destinations. If a candidate fails to achieve the required grade, then they may wish to re-sit the qualification. Recent reforms to the structure of A Levels, such as the removal of the January examination session and the move to linear A Levels, may increase the proportion of candidates choosing to re-sit an entire qualification. In this Data Byte we look at the re-sitting of A Level qualifications prior to the introduction of these reforms.

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Candidates' best GCSE grades

Our recent Statistics Report looks at the GCSE subjects in which candidates achieve their best grades. This Data Byte extends this idea slightly by looking at the set of subjects that occurs together in a candidate’s best three GCSE grades. The results show that many candidates perform well in clusters of highly-related subjects, as well as in English and Mathematics.

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Student destinations from Key Stage 5

Graph showing student destinations from Key Stage 5

For students finishing Key Stage 5, a variety of options are available including further or higher education, employment, and other activities. This Data Byte examines the destinations of students who completed Key Stage 5 in the 2012-13 academic year.

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What GCSE and A Level subject combinations are offered by examination centres in England?

Graph showing what GCSE and A Level subject combinations are offered by examination centres in England

With the start of the 2016-2017 academic year, a new cohort of students is beginning to study their GCSEs and A Levels. A student’s choice of subjects will depend on their personal interests, their aspirations for the future, and, of course, the subjects offered by their school. This Data Byte presents an interactive look at the combinations of subjects offered by examination centres in England.

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Tweeting about exams

A graph showing exam-related tweets during Summer 2016

Whereas previously candidates would have conducted their "exam postmortems" in private conversation, these discussions are now often shared on Twitter, Facebook, and other public online forums. This summer we undertook to measure this phenomenon to record exam-related tweets in real time.

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The average age of teachers in secondary schools

Graph showing the average age of teachers in secondary schools

The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is an international survey that gathers information on teachers in secondary schools. In this Data Byte we look at how the age profile of teachers in England compares to other jurisdictions in the 2013 TALIS survey.

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Key statistics on the Extended Project Qualification

In recent years the EPQ has seen substantial increases in entries, perhaps partly because it is seen as good preparation for university study and is now included in offers by some higher education institutions. This Data Byte presents some key statistics on the EPQ since the 2007/08 academic year.

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Teacher mobility within the EU

A recently published article in the peer-reviewed journal Educational Research Review found that teachers are highly mobile professionals and that international teacher mobility and migration are increasing. As one example of this phenomenon, over 27,000 teachers working in Australia in 2010-11 were born in the UK according to OECD data.

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The role of teaching styles in Mathematics achievement

Mathematics achievement is widely seen as an indicator of the quality of a country’s education system and the subject features prominently in international comparative assessments. However Mathematics can be taught in many ways and here we investigate how national teaching styles shape the performance of students in two international comparisons of Mathematics achievement.

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Most popular A level subjects since 2000

It is likely that reform of A Levels, combined with funding changes for educational institutions for 16–19 year olds, will affect subject uptake, with students each taking fewer subjects. Here we look at how the uptake of popular subjects has evolved since 2000, when the previous system of linear A Levels was in place.

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The changing gender gap

Graph of the changing gender gap

The latest graph from our Assessment Research and Development team explores the changing gender gap in English, maths and science from KS2 to GCSE.

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Gender gap in attainment at GCSE

Graph of the Gender Gap in attainment at GCSE

The gender divide in education is never far from the headlines - but just how significant is it? This graph by our research team illustrates the GCSE attainment divide, raising some interesting questions.

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Research Matters 23 cover

Research Matters

Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.