Computing entries jump ahead of PE at GCSE for the first time


ore students are choosing to study computing at GCSE than PE for the first time since the technology-based subject was introduced.

This year, figures showed 81,120 entries for computing, compared with 79,924 for PE.

The number of students choosing to study PE has been falling since 2016.

In 2014, 112,971 pupils chose to pursue it at GCSE, rising to a high of 125,120 two years later but falling thereafter.

(PA Graphics) / PA Graphics

In contrast, computing’s popularity has soared from just 16,773 entries in 2014 when the course was first available, to almost five times that figure this year.

Dr Roman Bauer, a computer science lecturer at the University of Surrey, said: “I think this is a very good sign because the UK is already a leader in IT and AI, it’s one of the leading countries in research as well as services.

“I think it’s very good that this aligns with what students are looking for in their own careers because computing is extremely advantageous, almost all graduates get jobs in the industry.”

Speaking about PE being overtaken, he added: “Of course it’s important that everyone takes care of their physical fitness but I don’t think having a career in computing or AI negatively affects fitness.”

Sue Wilkinson, of the Association for Physical Education, told the PA news agency: “I am obviously disappointed if GCSE PE numbers have declined.

“At a time when physical health and emotional wellbeing is a priority for the nation, one would hope more young people would pick PE.”

Overall this year, the most popular subject choices are the same as 2021 – double award science, maths, English, English literature, history, geography, religious studies, art and design, biology and chemistry.

Many GCSE subjects are compulsory for students as opposed to A-level, where all are optional.

Business studies and geography, both of which are optional at GCSE, have seen increases in entries, by 4.6% and 2.7% respectively.

French is still the most popular modern foreign language, while Spanish remains in second place.

Although the Joint Council for Qualifications, which published statistics on GCSE grades for UK students on Thursday, said Spanish entries are down 1.7% for the first time since 2018.

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