GCSE and A Level Music entries for 2021 in England remain stable but low

Harriet Clifford
Thursday, May 27, 2021

Provisional statistics published by Ofqual reveal 35,400 entries for GCSE Music in 2021, up 2 per cent on 2020 but down by around a quarter in the last decade.


Ofqual has published provisional GCSE and A Level entry statistics for 2021. Overall in England, both remain stable, with GCSE entries increasing by 0.4 per cent, and A Levels increasing by 3 per cent. 

While some non-EBacc subjects have seen large decreases this year, Music entries across both GCSE and A Level have also remained consistent since 2020. 

35,400 students have been entered for GCSE Music this summer, a 2 per cent increase on the 34,865 who took the qualification in June 2020. However, approximately 54,000 students took the qualification in 2008. 

A Level entries have remained almost exactly the same as last year (5,035 in 2020 and 5,045 for 2021), but figures published by Ofqual in 2020 revealed that student numbers for Music had nearly halved in the previous decade. 

EBacc subjects continue to account for the majority of GCSE entries at 82 per cent, a figure which has gradually increased since 2017. 

The only non-EBacc subjects to see increases in GCSE entries this year are Art & design subjects, Business studies, Food preparation & nutrition, Social science subjects, and Music. 

Although stable for now, these shrinking statistics for Music have raised concerns among music educators in recent years, with many citing the EBacc, league tables, and reduced government investment in the arts as reasons for the decline. 

Exams have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic, but qualifications will continue to go ahead with teacher-assessed grades quality assured by exam boards. 

The full Ofqual statistics can be found here