GCSE statistics

All the latest GCSE statistics.

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At the end of secondary school education, 16-year-olds in the UK take their GCSE exams – in 2019 over 4.6 million students took these exams. We unpacked the statistics to find out the lowdown on GCSE exams and results.

Quick overview

  • 4.6 million 16-year-olds took GCSE exams in the UK in 2019
  • There are 4,160 secondary schools in the UK in 2018/19
  • 49% of government education spending was on secondary schools in 2018/19
  • Most students took 8 or 9 GCSE subjects in 2019 (50%)
  • 67% of students passed their GCSEs (grade C/4 and above)
  • 1 in 5 students achieved a grade A (or grade 7) and above in 2019

Number of schools in the UK

There are over 30,000 schools in the UK in 2018/19, 4,190 of which are secondary schools. There are significantly more primary schools than there are secondary schools in the UK, with 20,840 open in 2018/19, which is almost 5 times as many as there are secondary schools.

Explore the graphic and table below to see the total number of schools by type in 2018/19.

Type of school Number of schools in 2017/18
Nurseries 3,040
Primary 20,840
Secondary 4,190
Other 4,050

Expenditure on schools in the UK

Over the past 19 years (2000/01–2018/19) the amount of public sector spending on education has almost doubled (1.9x). The total spending in 2018/19 was £89.4 billion, with 49% of this being spent on secondary school education. Secondary school spending is 1.4x more than pre-primary and primary school spending.

Type Public sector expenditure on education in the UK in 2018/19 (in millions)
Secondary education £43,913
Pre-primary and primary education £31,095
Tertiary education £4,621
Subsidiary services to education £3,557
Education n.e.c.* £2,584
R&D education £2,259
Education not definable by level £789
Post-secondary non-tertiary education £607

GCSE results

In 2019 over 4.6 million 16-year-olds took their GCSE exams in England, which was 50,000 more than in 2018. The majority of students took 8 or 9 GCSE subjects (50.1%). Meanwhile a small percentage of students took 10 or more GCSE exams (17.7%) in 2019, a total of 103,000 students. 1 in 20 students in 2019 took between 1 and 3 GCSE exams, a total of 29,800 students.

Explore the graph and table below to see how many GCSE exams students took in 2019.

Number of GCSE's taken Number of students Percentage
1 8,750 1.5%
2 11,350 2%
3 9,700 1.7%
4 9,500 1.6%
5 17,550 3%
6 43,400 7.5%
7 86,900 15%
8 134,150 23.1%
9 156,700 27%
10 84,050 14.5%
11 17,450 3%
12+ 1,350 0.2%
Total 580,850 100%

GCSE pass percentage

In general the number of students achieving a grade A or above is around one in five students doing so. In 2018/19 the number of students who achieved a grade A or above was 20.6%, the highest amount since 2015 (21%). Two thirds (67%) of students achieved a grade of C or above in 2018/19, the highest amount since 2013. Over the last 11 years fewer than 2% of students failed their GCSE exams, in 2019 98.3% of students achieved at least one grade of G or above, just slightly less than the year before.

Year 1 and above (Grade G) 4 and above (Grade C) 7 and above (Grade A)
2008 98.4% 65.5% 20.6%
2009 98.6% 66.9% 21.5%
2010 98.7% 69.0% 22.6%
2011 98.8% 69.8% 23.3%
2012 99.0% 69.5% 22.3%
2013 98.8% 67.9% 21.2%
2014 98.5% 68.6% 21.1%
2015 98.6% 68.8% 21.0%
2016 98.4% 66.6% 20.3%
2017 98.5% 66.1% 19.8%
2018 98.4% 66.6% 20.3%
2019 98.3% 67.0% 20.6%

Sources

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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