Girls rocket Wales ahead in A-level physics numbers

18 August 2017

The Institute of Physics is pleased to see that today’s A-level results reflect a remarkable result for Wales.



Entries to physics increased by 3.8% to 1,568 students, representing 4.7% of total A-level entries in Wales. These numbers lead the rest of the UK which saw an overall increase in physics A-level entries though at a lower rate. It is particularly encouraging that this increase includes a substantial growth in women choosing the subject. Entries to A-level physics by female students increased by over 7.6% compared to an increase in male entries of 2.7%.

Performance in physics A-levels has also improved, with increases in the number of students achieving grades A*–C (71.4%, up from 67.5%) and A*–A (29.9%, up from 25.8%). This bucks the UK-wide trend which has seen grades in physics remain stationary.

IOP Wales chair Andrew Evans said: “To see this increase in A-level physics entries is positive, but to see so much of that increase generated by female entries is extremely encouraging. The Institute continues to provide support to teachers of physics through the Stimulating Physics Network, which has operated in Wales since 2014. This programme provides teachers of physics with free support to improve their subject knowledge and practical skills.”

More students entering STEM qualifications marks a positive step for Wales, and continuing this trend will be key if the Welsh economy is to flourish in an increasingly high-tech market. Physics contributes £5.2bn to the GVA of Wales annually, constituting almost 10% of our economic output and generating 84,000 jobs. In order to sustain this output, Wales will need to have a ready supply of skilled physics graduates and apprentices.

Wales is fortunate to benefit from relatively high levels of government support for STEM education, with ongoing support for informal science education through the National Science Academies and teacher development through projects like the Institute of Physics’s Stimulating Physics Network.