GCSE results are out today, with the results showing maths as one of the few remaining areas in which boys are outperforming girls.
About 26% of papers taken by girls were given an A or A*, while just under 20% of those taken by boys were. Overall, those awarded between an A* and a C grade has risen for the 23rd year in a row, up 0.8% to 69.8%. But the overall pass rate (grades A* to E) dropped slightly to 92.7%.
Mathematics is compulsory at GCSE. As with A-Levels, more pupils are taking individual sciences, and fewer are taking modern languages, geography and history, although RE numbers are up.
The gap between girls and boys is now at its widest ever. 26.5% of grades awarded to girls were A or A*, with only 19.8% of boys. The gap has also widened when considering A*-C grades.
Maths is one subject that bucks this trend: boys have beaten girls at GCSE maths for the third year in a row. It is widely believed that the decision to drop coursework in GCSE maths has given boys better chances. The proportion of boys getting grades A* to C in maths has risen again this year from 57.6% to 58.6%. The proportion of girls passing has also risen, from 56.8% to 58.3%.
Northern Ireland again gained the best results with 75% of papers being awarded A*-C grades.
The government has introduced the English Baccalaureate to demonstrate whether a pupil has gained a good grade in 5 key subject areas. But the fall in the uptake of the humanities, which are one of the 5 key areas, will not be welcome news for ministers.
Critics say that the inexorable rise in GCSE grades is a sign of increasingly easy examinations. The NCETM have welcomed the rise in maths grades, saying that the improvement is a result of better teaching methods.