“Education minister Elizabeth Truss is right to say that the issue for girls is not competence but confidence” says Girls’ Schools Association president Hilary French, commenting on today’s announcement from the Institute of Physics that 49 per cent of co-ed state-funded schools are strengthening gender imbalances in maths and sciences while just 19 per cent are countering them.
The picture in independent girls’ schools is very different, suggesting that there IS a way for schools to get this right.
Girls at Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) schools achieve a disproportionately large share of the top grades in maths and physics. They are 75% more likely to take Maths A-level, 70% more likely to take Chemistry, two and a half times as likely to take Physics.
In 2012, there were slightly over seven and a half thousand girls at GSA schools taking A-levels, (5.2% of all girls taking A-levels nationally), but 21.6% of GSA entries were awarded an A*, as opposed to just 7.9% of entries doing so nationally.
Bucking national trends, over 55% of girls at GSA schools take a STEM subject at A-level. Just under two fifths take Maths and just over two fifths take at least one science.
- In Physics, 13.4% of all entries from girls come from GSA schools, (above the 5.2% baseline), but they are awarded 25.9% of the A*s and 20.5% of the A or A* grades.
- In Chemistry, girls at GSA schools comprise 8.9% of entries, but they are awarded 19.8% of the A* s and 15.4% of A or A* grades.
- In Further Maths, girls at GSA schools comprise 15.9% of the entries, but they are awarded 24.7% of the A* grades and 20.1% of the A or A*s.
GSA president Hilary French said:
“The girls’ school experience shows that, with the right environment and the right teaching, it IS possible for girls not only to choose to study maths and science, but also to do well at them. In a girls’ school, the pressure to opt for the subjects which are perceived as more ‘feminine’ just doesn’t exist and so the potentially talented female scientists, mathematicians and linguists are able to pursue their interests and achieve their full potential.”