School Effects and Subject Choice: The Uptake of Scientific Subjects in Ireland
School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Vol. 17, September, 2006
Studies of subject take-up within secondary education have tended to focus on student characteristics and have rarely attempted to take account of the broad variety of ways, formal and informal, in which schools can constrain or facilitate particular subject choices. In contrast, this paper explores both the school and student factors shaping the take-up of Biology, Physics and Chemistry at upper secondary level. The analyses draw on detailed information on almost 4,000 students in 100 secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland. Schools are found to differ in the proportion of students taking science subjects, even controlling for the profile of students. School structures at both lower and upper secondary levels are found to play a role in shaping the choices made by students regarding science.