Northern Ireland news

Change in attitude towards girls in `stem' driving improved GCSE performance

Caroline Moseley, Amber Lord and Zoe Lock open their GCSE results at Robert May's School in Odiham, Hampshire. Picture by Victoria Jones/PA Wire

A CHANGE in attitude towards girls in `stem' is driving improved GCSE performance in the sciences.

Girls are achieving increasing numbers of grade A/7 or above in maths and physics across Britain and Northern Ireland.

Traditionally, their male classmates have scored better.

The number of girls getting top maths marks rose across the UK and there was a similar trend in physics.

There was an overall increase this year in science, technology, engineering and maths (stem) subject entries across Northern Ireland, Wales and England.

In the north alone, there was a 1.4 percentage point decrease but exam chiefs noted it was too early to discern a trend.

Almost one in every four (24.4 per cent) entries in double award science achieved an A/7 in the north.

There was also strong and improved performances in physics (55.9 per cent A/7), chemistry (57.9) and biology (49.1).

Mark Hopkins, General Manager of Dell Technologies Ireland said welcomed the results as "positive".

"It is now critical that we build on the success of this year's results to ensure that every young person leaves secondary education with critical-thinking, collaboration and digital skills that they will need to succeed in our technology-driven world," he said.

"The future of work is rapidly changing and tomorrow's leaders will need to be prepared.

"According to research undertaken by Dell Technologies and the Institute of the Future, 85 per cent of the jobs of 2030 do not exist today. Industry leaders, policymakers and educators must redouble efforts to ensure we foster the next generation of connected students in connected classrooms. By taking the leadership on stem education across these islands and embracing technology in education, we can ensure the future growth and competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy."

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO of Stemmettes said science and maths were for all genders.

"We can't wait to see what this generation achieves in terms of innovation and solving the world's problems with their knowledge, without the weight of outdated stereotypes and sexist biases," she said.

Geoff Barton, general secretary at the Association of School and College leaders, believes a change in attitude towards girls in Stem is evident at GCSE and A-level.

"The encouraging part of that is that females are thinking 'this is as much a part of my world as it is my brother's', so I think that's a really good thing," he said.

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