Anna Lise Gordon, President of the Association for Language Learning comments “Firstly, on behalf of the Association, I would like to congratulate all GCSE students and their teachers on their results, and recognise how much hard work goes into achieving these grades. I would also like to thank language assistants for their continued efforts and support of language teaching in this country.There are ongoing concerns about the decline in numbers taking a GCSE in a modern language, but this should not detract from the significant achievements of so many young people, as reflected in the GCSE results published today.”

A summary of information was presented at a JCQ briefing on Thursday 24 August, on this year’s GCSE results, presented by Michael Turner, Director General of JCQ.

In attendance were Rachel Middleton, ALL Director and Helen Myers, Chair of ALL London Branch, along with a broad range of education professionals who support specific curriculum subjects, pedagogy and teachers.

Entries

Overall, this year’s GCSE cohort of 16 year olds is 2.7% smaller than last year, however overall GCSE entries are up 3.9% on last year to 5,443,072 (mainly as a result of schools switching back from iGCSE English to GCSE English). In comparison to 2016, for languages specifically, the number of UK entries overall is down 7.3% on last year. Entries for individual languages have fallen as follows against last year: French by 9.9%, German by 13.2% and Spanish by 1.8%. Entries for other modern languages are broadly similar to last year. In total the number of UK entries for modern languages GCSEs was almost 300,000.

Outcomes

Outcomes across all grade boundaries for A* – G for 2017 are broadly in keeping with 2016 results. In French, 10% of entrants achieved an A*, in German 8.2% and in Spanish 13.5%, with the greater increase seen in Spanish, up 0.6% on last year’s performance to 13.5%. The percentage of entrants securing an A* – C grade were as follows: 69.6% in French, 74.8% in German and 70.8% in Spanish. In other modern languages 89% secured an A* -C grade at GCSE, mirroring last year’s results. The following table providing an overview of entries and cumulative outcomes in French, German and Spanish, has been extracted from data provided by JCQ. Full overviews can be accessed here.

Provisional GCSE (Full Course) Results (A*- G Only) – June 2017

(All UK Candidates)

CUMULATIVE PERCENTAGES of Subject Results by Grade and by Gender

The figures in brackets are the equivalent provisional figures for 2016.

Subject Gender Number % of Total CUMULATIVE PERCENTAGES by Grade
    Sat No. Sat

A*

A B C D E F G

U

French Male 53180 2.9 7.6 18.8 35.5 63.5 86.0 94.9 98.4 99.6 100.0
(59959) (2.3) (7.9) (18.8) (35.5) (63.1) (86.1) (95.1) (98.4) (99.6) (100.0)
Female 77329 4.1 11.7 26.6 46.7 73.7 91.4 97.2 99.1 99.8 100.0
(84933) (3.2) (11.8) (26.8) (46.9) (74.4) (92.0) (97.4) (99.2) (99.8) (100.0)
Male & Female 130509 3.5 10.0 23.4 42.2 69.6 89.2 96.2 98.8 99.7 100.0
(144892) (2.8) (10.2) (23.5) (42.2) (69.7) (89.6) (96.4) (98.9) (99.7) (100.0)
German Male 20894 1.1 6.8 20.0 41.2 70.0 89.7 97.1 99.2 99.9 100.0
(23936) (0.9) (6.4) (18.6) (39.5) (68.7) (89.2) (96.6) (99.0) (99.8) (100.0)
Female 22755 1.2 9.5 26.7 51.7 79.2 94.2 98.4 99.6 99.9 100.0
(26335) (1.0) (9.5) (26.6) (51.6) (78.8) (93.9) (98.4) (99.6) (99.9) (100.0)
Male & Female 43649 1.2 8.2 23.5 46.7 74.8 92.0 97.7 99.4 99.9 100.0
(50271) (1.0) (8.0) (22.8) (45.8) (74.0) (91.7) (97.6) (99.3) (99.8) (100.0)
Spanish Male 38979 2.1 10.5 22.7 40.4 65.5 84.7 93.6 97.5 99.3 100.0
(40014) (1.6) (10.0) (22.1) (39.8) (65.0) (84.5) (93.4) (97.4) (99.3) (100.0)
Female 52061 2.8 15.8 31.4 50.6 74.7 90.3 96.2 98.6 99.6 100.0
(52667) (2.0) (15.2) (31.5) (52.1) (75.4) (90.8) (96.5) (98.7) (99.6) (100.0)
Male & Female 91040 2.5 13.5 27.7 46.2 70.8 87.9 95.1 98.2 99.5 100.0
(92681) (1.8) (12.9) (27.5) (46.8) (70.9) (88.1) (95.2) (98.2) (99.5) (100.0)

Given the compelling evidence about severe grading in languages, ALL notes the further decline in entries for modern languages GCSEs. Additionally, because the grade attained in a language is likely to be lower than that in other permissible subjects for an Attainment 8 score and therefore the Progress 8 measure, ALL considers this to be impacting on GCSE languages uptake and therefore provision within schools’ curriculum offer to students. The decline reinforces the urgent need for Ofqual to act on the issue of severe grading, which is widely recognised as one of the major contributory causes, particularly with the introduction of the new accountability measures. In addition, the results demonstrate that policy makers’ expectations of an upwards trend in language entries as a consequence of the EBacc measure have not been met.

JCQ were not able to extract detail from entries about the number of students taking double or single languages at GCSE, to provide an insight on whether there were any significant changes in the pattern of student linguists’ behaviours.

Final reaction from ALL’s President Elect, Jane Harvey “ ALL will continue to speak up for the position of languages in our schools, ensuring the government is fully aware of their vital importance to the UK in a post- Brexit world.  And to the students, many congratulations on your success and please keep your languages alive – speaking another language will enhance your career prospects and open up a whole new world of travel and friendship.”

ALL would like to share the experiences of its members with others, so if you have information or resources you are happy to share with us relating to how you are discussing results with your senior team, department, parents and students, then do get in touch at info@all-languages.org.uk so that we can share this more widely.

Heads up for 2018

  • ALL will be maintaining close links with ASCL, ISMLA and HMC regarding severe grading issues at GCSE
  • A reminder about the information within JCQ’s reports which shows  the current cumulative percentages for the “anchor points” for GCSE grades  and the new 9-1 grading system (A / 7, C / 4, G / 1), which will apply first to languages in summer 2018 results. This report can be accessed by visiting the JCQ website and reading pages 4-8 of the document called GCSE Full Course results 2017.

Further information

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