GCSE art and design numbers have fallen sharply this year

The total number of students (male & female) sitting art and design GCSE subjects has fallen from 194,637 to 183,085. This sharp fall of 11,552 in students represents a 6 per cent decline. This is the biggest percentage decline in total candidate numbers recorded since 2000, when JCQ first published data*.

The total number of art and design GCSE candidates sitting the exam has fallen sharply this year. As a percentage of the total number of GCSE students, art and design completions have also declined significantly from 3.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

There has been a 0.6 percentage decline of grade Cs attained in art and design. The overall percentage has fallen by 0.6, from 76.4 to 75.9 per cent (male & female). This compares fairly favourably with national trends where, in all subjects combined, a fall of 2.2 per cent fewer candidates achieved a C grade: in 2015 68.8 per cent achieved a C grade, this year only 66.6 per cent achieved this grade.

Gender gaps
In 2015 33.8 per cent of candidates were male. Unfortunately the figure has not improved, indeed, it has decreased slightly to 33.3 per cent. In 2015 66.2 per cent of candidates were female, this year the figure has risen by 0.5 per cent to 66.7 per cent.

Gender attainment
The gender gap between male and female attainment at grade C has not changed this year – 63.5 per cent of male art and design GCSE candidates achieved a grade C and 75.9 of female candidates achieved the same grade.

Disappointingly this year, the gender attainment gap for male and female candidates achieving A*s has slightly widened. Male candidates achieved 4.6 per cent A*s and female candidates achieved 11.1 per cent. In 2015 the percentages were 4.7 and 11.0 per cent respectively.

The Society is seriously concerned but unsurprised at the continued and significant decline in GCSE numbers for art and design in 2016. The evidence from The NSEAD Survey Report 2015-16 provided a stark warning of the direct effects of government policy on our subject, notably the implications of the EBacc and the choices available for young people at level 2.

The GCSE results of 2016 confirm our findings and our continued commitment to challenge the barriers to engagement and attainment in art and design in this context. The Society will be communicating directly with the Secretary of State and Minister of State for Education about the continued and predicted decline in take up in art and design. The Society will also continue to implement strategies to overcome the gender divide in candidate uptake.

This must not detract from celebrating the achievement and commitment of all our dedicated teachers of art and design and young people gaining GCSE qualifications in art and design. A massive well done to everyone, and we hope that what you and your students achieve in and through our subject, will stand in good stead as you move forward into your careers and life choices.

Visit JQC website for results and trends 2000-2016.

25 Aug 2016