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Our data shows that access to subjects such as triple science and language GCSEs vary enormously, with young people in poor neighbourhoods either denied access or strongly encouraged not to take up certain subjects. 

Download data: GCSE enrolment data 2013-14

The dataset is published under an Attribution CC BY licence. This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon our work, even commercially, as long as the OPSN is credited for the original creation.

 The data reveals that:

  • In North East Lincolnshire 50% of the 10 schools in the LEA did not offer triple science GCSE. More than a third of schools do not enter any pupils for triple science in Knowsley (43%), Slough (36%), Kingston upon Hull (38%) and Newcastle (36%).

  • In contrast, in Sussex and Cumbria – local authorities with over 30 schools – every school offers GCSE in three sciences.

  • Children in Knowsley are half as likely to be enrolled for a science GCSE as children in Buckinghamshire.

  • Children in Kensington are four times more likely to be enrolled for a language GCSE than children in Middlesbrough where, on average, only one child in every four takes a language GCSE

  • You are most likely to be entered for an art GCSE in the Isles of Scilly and least likely in Kingston upon Hull, where it is five times less likely.

In a report to be published next week, we will highlight ‘subject deserts’ within certain local authorities, with pupils not given the option of finding a school which offers the subjects they want to study.

Roger Taylor, Chair of OPSN and RSA Fellow, said: “These data show that children’s educational opportunities are defined by where they live. We can see that the curriculum taught to children in poorer parts of England is significantly different to that taught in wealthier areas. This would be of little concern if these differences reflected the needs and choices of pupils and families. Our worry is that instead they reflect decisions made by schools and are based on calculations as to how schools can appear better on league tables by encouraging children to avoid taking on more challenging subjects. The evidence suggests that in areas where most children are expected to do less well in exams, the educational opportunities for all children are being restricted.”

Access to triple science varies across England

 Access to triple science varies across England 

Differing outcomes: Access to triple science in Merseyside

These data patterns also raise serious policy questions, including the extent to which Local Authorities should have strategic oversight, the quality of school leadership and how to improve it. As the RSA’s City Growth Commission reports recommend, we need more strategic thinking at city-regional level, aligning the relationship between education, skills and prosperity.


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