An investigation of changing patterns of entry for GCSE geography: choice, diversity and competition

Weeden, Paul (2012). An investigation of changing patterns of entry for GCSE geography: choice, diversity and competition. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This study investigates issues of subject choice at 14. Geography is a popular optional subject choice in England and Wales at age 14 but between 1996 and 2010 numbers entering for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examination declined by 35.6% although total entries for GCSE had increased. This study sought to help the geography subject community better understand the reasons for this decline. The research has used NPD/PLASC data to investigate patterns of entry for geography at the national level. This secondary data analysis was developed further through a study of five schools which investigated curriculum diversity and competition between subjects at the school level. A conceptual model of the option choice system is used as the framework for analysis. The results showed there was segregation in entry patterns with high attaining students and students in less deprived rural counties being more likely to study geography. Government policy had both direct and indirect influences on geography entries through curriculum decisions made by schools. Teachers and their pedagogy played a significant part in student choice but their influence on numbers choosing the subject can be constrained by whole school curriculum and option choice systems.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
L Education > LF Individual institutions (Europe)


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