GCSE results: At least foreign languages provided a bright spot

 

Education Editor

A major increase in the take-up of modern foreign languages - the first for more than a decade - is being heralded as the brightest spot on the horizon in this year's GCSE results.

Figures showed French, Spanish and German had all registered an increase - French up 15.5 per cent to 177,000, Spanish up 25.8 per cent to 91,000 and German up 9.4 per cent to 63,000.

The take-up of minority languages also rose by 5.1 per cent with the most popular being Italian with 5,136, urdu with 4,519 and Polish 3,933. Others increasing in popularity include Arabic (3,607) and Chinese (3,042).

The increase - after languages have been in virtual free-fall since Labour decided they should no longer be compulsory for 14 to 16-year-olds a decade ago - is being put down to Education Secretary Michael Gove's introduction of the English Baccalaureate ranking in exam leagues.

Whilst English, maths, science and the humanities - history or geography - had survived better in the face of the move away from traditional academic subjects in the 1990's and early 2000's, scores of language teachers were sacked from secondary schools as the take-up of the subject plummeted.

"This year's upturn in languages will be welcomed across the education sector and beyond," said Michael Turner, director at the Joint Council for Qualifications - the umbrella body representing exam boards.  "Not since 2008 have there been this many entries.

"However, it remains to be seen if this is the start of a trend and if students continue to study a language at A-level."

Last week's A-level results revealed a depressingly familiar picture of a further decline in take-up - with a 9.9per cent fall in the take up of French and 11.1 per cent drop in German only minimally offset by a 4.1 per cent rise in Spanish.

The rise in numbers studying the subject led to a drop in the percentage of pupils gaining A* to C grades in the subject  - with French down from 66.2 per cent to 63.9 per cent, German from 43.3 per cent to 42.1 per cent and Spanish from 66.8 per cent to 66.2 per cent.  However, exam boards explained this by saying that the rise had attracted a broader range of candidates to study the exam.

Katja Hall, chief policy director at the CBI, said: "It's good to see the big rise in language entrants but the accelerating drop-off at A-level shows there is a huge amount of ground to claw back since compulsory GCSEs were scrapped.

"It is better late than never to make languages mandatory at primary school (the will be compulsory for seven-year-olds) but it will be years before we can reap the rewards fully."

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said: "Today's results show the EBacc has not just arrested the decline in the study of academic subjects at GCSE - it is reversing it.

"I am particularly delighted to see a languages revival - with an increase in the number of entries to French, German and Spanish GCSEs after years of decline."

Kathryn James, director of policy at the National Association of Head Teachers, added: "The slight fall in top grades was to be anticipated given the wider ability range now taking these subjects."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Owner

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Development Manager

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'