Ofqual provisional level 1-3 figures, May 2018: 26/27 non-Ebacc subjects see a fall in candidate numbers

Provisional figures released by the exams regulator Ofqual show A-level and AS-level art and design subjects are falling, whilst the decline in art and design level 1 and 2 candidate numbers has slowed down.

The provisional figures suggest art and design levels 1 and 2 will see a 2% increase and that out of 27 non-EBacc subjects art and design will be the only subject set to buck this trend. In other words, 26/27 non-Ebacc subjects will see a decline in numbers, whilst art and design will see a very nominal increase.

Whereas this is a cause for celebration, not least for the energy and advocacy of art and design teachers in encouraging young people to take up our subject, we need to be mindful that we are also countenancing the fact that numbers remain at their lowest level since 2000, when records were first published online.

Concerning for our subject, is the fall in level 3 art and design candidate numbers. These have fallen this year by 2% compared to 2017. AS levels in art and design face a significant fall of 54% – albeit, all subjects declined by 20% or more.

The fluctuations must be seen in the following contexts:

Ebacc level 1 and 2 subject entries have increased by 5% compared to 2017;

All level 1 and 2 entries have increased by 1% compared to 2017;

After two years of falling GCSE art and design numbers, the total number of provisional entries, seen this year, will not recover candidate numbers to annual totals recorded this century;

As a percentage of the total candidates, art and design GCSE candidate numbers are at 3.3%, this is again lower than any recorded this century (in 2017 it was 3.2%).

This year D&T GCSE candidate numbers are reported to fall by 7%, however DATA have sought clarification and of candidate numbers from Ofqual and much larger increases have been seen in Food Technology (20.6%) and Home Economics (35%). NSEAD members have also reported that some D&T specifications are now taught by art and design departments. NSEAD is currently investigating the impact of such policies and changes on both subjects.

Ofqual have reported: ‘Entries for all non-EBacc subjects except art and design showed a decline in 2018. This overall decline indicates that schools/colleges are focussing more on EBacc subjects than those subjects which do not count towards the EBacc. Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures are also likely to be influencing these patterns as their calculation can only include a maximum of three non-EBacc GCSEs.’

We believe that government policy to improve uptake in STEM subjects, are at the expense of time, value and resources for subjects such as art and design and is actively responsible for these figures. Entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum continues to be eroded across all phases and we will continue to challenge government policy on their policies.

Read the full Ofqual report here

*Arts Professional have reported on the decline in arts subjects and D&T. It should however again be noted that Food Technology and Home Economics have for the first time this year, become standalone subjects. Both areas saw much bigger decreases in candidate numbers than D&T. The Ofqual report has been revised to better explain this (page 4.)

25 May 2018