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Entries into individual science GCSEs in England have increased by 22.8% in biology, 19.2% in chemistry, 17.6% in physics, and 10.8% in computer science.

In England over 164,000 students sat the reformed Biology GCSE and 365,000 sat the new combined science GCSE, with more than 4,000 in Northern Ireland and 7,000 students in Wales receiving Biology GCSE awards.

Due to recent education reforms in England, the qualifications studied and grades received by students today are significantly different between the nations; this year is the first year students in England sitting their Biology or Combined Science GCSE will be graded on the 9-1 scale.

Most GCSEs taken by students at schools in Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to be graded A* to G, students in Scotland continue to sit their Nationals. The Royal Society of Biology has produced a briefing document on reformed GCSEs and the new 9 to 1 grading scale.


Ofqual have published a blog comparing the reformed GCSE grades 9 to 1, to the legacy qualification grades A*-G.  

A new combined science GCSE replaces the legacy GCSEs in science and additional science. This replacement makes it difficult to compare these qualifications year-on-year.

The overall outcomes in combined sciences are very similar when comparing the legacy GCSEs to the newly reformed Combined Science GCSE.

Last year 55.2% of students sitting Science and Additional Science (the legacy qualification) received a 4-4 or C in their exams. Under the new reformed qualification, 54.7% of students received a grade 4-4/C or above in their Combined Science exams.

Lauren McLeod, head of education policy at the Royal Society of Biology, commented “The Royal Society of Biology congratulates all students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receiving their GCSE results today and wishes them the best in the next phase of their education.

“We also congratulate teachers of the sciences in successfully preparing students for entry into A Levels or technical and vocational routes.

“In particular, we recognise the hard work of teachers in England in helping students achieve their best in new GCSE qualifications.”

Next year will see many of those who have received Biology GCSE results today going on to study reformed A Level qualifications, and look to secure a place to study undergraduate biosciences in 2020.

As these students progress, RSB will continue to collect evidence on the impact of education reforms through the post 16 biology survey.

Earlier this week, the Royal Society of Biology published a blog Is my grade 9 an A*? Making sense of qualification reforms, discussing education qualification reforms in England.