Patterns of Subject Uptake and Examination Entry 1984–1997
In 1984, the APU science survey collected information on the courses followed by Year 11 pupils. In this paper, the APU survey will be compared with recent GCSE examination level data and will describe the impact of the National Curriculum on the sexes and on pupils of differing ability. In 1984, there were considerable differences in uptake by the sexes and by ability. In 1997, pupils were taking more examinations than were pupils in 1984. Also, girls were taking more GCSEs than boys in 1997. This could be the result of changes in the provision of subjects. The subjects favoured by males, such as science and technology, tend to have been merged with other subjects. The amount of physics studied by boys has decreased with the introduction of the GCSE (from a whole subject to half a subject). Subjects stereotypically preferred by girls such as modern languages, drama and English literature have increased. In this sense, it could be said that there has been a feminisation of the curriculum, but these changes would only account for some of the differential performance between the sexes.