English Literature dropped out of the top 10 most popular subjects at A level for the first time.
It saw the largest drop in applicants for a single subject with more than 1,000 entries, down 9.4% from 39,492 in 2021 to 35,791 this year.
Thursday’s figures, as students received their exam results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, came after a union of school leaders warned that urgent action was needed to “stop the downward spiral” of the subject’s popularity.
English Literature has been in the top 10 for as long as we look back and so this is the first time we’ve seen it come out of the top 10.
The rise in popularity of Geography has managed to push English Literature out of the top 10.
Derek Richardson, vice-chairman of Pearson UK, owner of the Edexcel exam board, said student interests change over time.
Mr Richardson, who said that as an English Literature graduate he recognized ‘the importance of the subject’, added: ‘English Literature has been in the top 10 for as long as we look back and it so is the first time we’ve seen him come out of the top 10.
He said it’s “clear that today’s students are interested in taking subjects that are different from the ones I took when I was in high school.”
He added, “So the things that students are interested in studying change over time and that seems to be happening right now.”
The ranking of the top five subjects by popularity remains unchanged this year, with math, psychology, biology, chemistry and history remaining the top picks for students.
The rest of the top 10 is made up of sociology, art and design, business studies, physics and geography.
Earlier this week, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the rise in interest in other subjects, but said he was “seriously concerned” about the decline in the English literature, accusing the government’s GCSE reforms of “deterring students”. ” chasing him at level A.
He said, “Literature is a vital part not only of our cultural past, but also of our diverse cultural present, and it should be a living, breathing subject that inspires and empowers young people.
“The GCSE specification needs urgent review and action must be taken to arrest the spiral of decline we are seeing at A level.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said the government had reformed the GCSE and A-Level in English Language and Literature “to be more rigorous and better prepare students for further education and employment”.