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Last update: 27/05/2012


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The following links may be useful when analysing exam results.  Some are reproduced below.  Others are linked to external sites.  Please let Helen know if you have any other helpful articles / links.  Thanks.

Date, title, link


23.08.07 ASCL Press release

Link below.

Link to site.

Praise for pupils and teachers

Support for Dearing changes incl severe grading

Criticism of businesses for failing to promote ML

Need to reduce number of exams

23.08.07 ALL Press release

Link below


Acknowledges drop in ML entries, but note over 50% entries for a subject which is optional.

Praise for teachers and students' hard work

Urge govt to address severe grading

Opportunity for developments with new curriculum

23.08.07 BBC

Row over fall in language studies

Link below

Link to site

Report of debate sparked by John Dunford (ASCL) criticising businesses for failing to promote the value of ML.

Quotations from other bodies.

23.08.07 CILT Press release

Link to site


TES staffroom forum discussions

Opinions expressed by teachers about their experiences 2007

GCSE Results, of-course!



23.08.07 ALL Press release




Another fall in the numbers of students taking GCSE French and German is regrettable, but not surprising given the optional status of all foreign languages in the KS 4 curriculum since 2004. Compared to other optional subjects, the number of entries for foreign languages overall is still encouraging, with over 392, 500 entries this year, which represents over 50% of all pupils entering GCSE.  ALL President David Wilson commented: “Language teachers have done well to keep numbers at this level given the competition of a very broad range of options at GCSE.  We are pleased to see the rise in numbers taking Spanish and the continued increase in entries for other languages, a reflection in part of the diverse and rich linguistic backgrounds of our students”    


The high achievement of pupils in languages is also very good news.  Helen Myers, President-Elect of ALL, said “It’s fantastic to see the excellent grades obtained by students and we know that both students and teachers work extremely hard in order to achieve them”.


We hope that the Government will continue to act upon recommendations of the Dearing Review, which was set up last year to address the issue of the fall in the number of pupils continuing to study languages at Key Stage 4. A good start has been made on the implementation of many of Lord Dearing’s reforms and we urge the new Government to press on with these, in particular those elements which affect GCSE examinations. A change in grade boundaries to bring Foreign Languages in line with Mathematics and other traditional academic subjects is under consideration by QCA and we hope that this will be recommended and approved by DCSF and Ministers as soon as possible so it can be implemented in time for the results in June 2008.  ALL will also respond to the current consultation on the revisions to GCSE.


Many interesting and exciting opportunities for language learning are suggested in the Dearing Review and the new – and more flexible- secondary curriculum to be introduced from September 2008 will allow these to be implemented more easily.  We hope that these new initiatives will help students to find language learning even more stimulating and enjoyable.


Steven Fawkes, ALL Membership Officer said, 'It is exciting to see how language teachers continue to rise to the challenges of the National Languages Strategy and the needs of the exam system by supporting and inspiring their learners. The coming months bring with them new developments in which ALL members will continue to play a major part in the continuing evolution of the world of language teaching '




  1. See entry statistics for all subjects at


  1. Dearing Review:


  1. New secondary curriculum


ASCL Press release 23/08/07 Original here

Employers must show support to modern languages

23 August 2007


This year’s fall in students taking modern language GCSE was to be expected, said the Association of School and College Leaders today. Employers much share the blame for this for failing to stress the importance of languages as a marketable job skill.


Commenting on today’s GCSE results, ASCL General Secretary Dr John Dunford said:


“The 20th birthday of the GCSE examination should be a cause for celebration. The 20-year record of year-on-year improvement in the results is a tribute to the hard work of the young people, the skills of their teachers and the breadth of courses now available. Such annual improvement is a record of which any British company would be proud. It is cause for celebration and those making negative comments would do well to recall the much poorer results of O level and CSE up to 1987.“


“Because maths and English are now included in the main performance tables, schools have put a lot of effort in the last year into improving results in these subjects. This year’s increases in A*-C passes in maths and English are therefore particularly gratifying.”


“The overall increase in A and A* grades in comprehensive schools sends a clear message to parents that bright children do well in these schools.”


“With modern languages ceasing to be compulsory, the numbers were inevitably going to fall again this year. It is to be hoped that the trend to give up modern languages at age 14 can be reversed. Young people are doing themselves no favours in the job market by cutting themselves off from foreign languages at this age. The increasing numbers accredited on the ‘Languages Ladder’ offer hope for the future, but there are issues that must be addressed before numbers grow substantially. As the Dearing Report recommended, in order to reverse the trend, the foreign languages curriculum must be made more interesting, the assessment of oral skills must change and, above all, the severe grading of modern languages GCSEs must be brought into line with other subjects. We await the result of the QCA work on languages grading.”


“Employers must bear a substantial responsibility for the fall in modern language numbers. Until they send out a much stronger message to young people that languages are important in the job market, GCSE numbers will continue to be low and British industry will continue to struggle to compete in a global market.”


“GCSE students this year submitted over 26 million papers and pieces of coursework. This bloated exam industry is reaching breaking point and must be slimmed down. Especially for exams at age 16 and 17, greater trust should be placed in the professional judgement of teachers. The number of external exams could be greatly reduced by using experienced teachers as chartered assessors, who would be qualified to grade in-course work to external standards.”


“As we move towards a 14 to 19 qualifications system over the next five years, the GCSE will surely become less important and will be seen increasingly as a stepping stone on the way to more significant qualifications at 18 or 19. But, for the time being, it remains a necessary hurdle for young people before moving to the next stage of education or training.”


- end -

Editor’s note: The Association of School and College Leaders is the only union to exclusively speak for secondary school and college leaders. Its membership includes more than 13,000 secondary school and college leaders, including heads, principals, deputies, vice-principals, assistant heads, bursars and business managers.

For further comment please contact John Dunford on 0116 299 1122 or 077100 39139

For the press office please contact Sara Gadzik on 0116 299 1122 or 07769 677902.

ASCL. The new name for SHA.



23.08.07. BBC Website article: Row over fall in language studies.  Original here.

A head teachers' leader says British industry fails to signal to teenagers the importance of language learning.

John Dunford of the Association of School and College Leaders spoke out as GCSE results showed a further decline in the entries for French and German.

The Institute of Directors said this was as misguided as it would be to credit employer demand with a surge in the popularity of religious studies.

Studying a modern foreign language is now optional beyond the age of 14.

Exam entries in French fell 8.2% from last year to 216,718 and in German were down 10.2% to just 81,000.

These were "significant" falls, said the head of the AQA exam board, Dr Mike Cresswell.

He told journalists at a briefing by the Joint Council for Qualifications that youngsters and their parents were very attuned these days to shifts in the job market, in terms of their subject options.

"I don't think there are signals coming from the employment market that doing languages will be useful."

Greg Watson of the OCR board felt the same.

"There does seem to be a mismatch between what I hear when I talk to employers about this," he said.

"They say, 'We are desperate for language skills, we are doing more business abroad'.

"When I ask if they are putting it in job adverts or a salary premium the answer tends to be 'No'."


Later Dr Dunford of the head teachers' association predicted that this year would be the bottom of the decline, as people recognised that they were doing themselves no favours in the job market by cutting out foreign languages.

He said various factors were involved, including the relative difficulty of language subjects - whose exam grades needed to be brought into line with other subjects.

Also the tourist industry in other countries was so well geared to catering for English speakers that youngsters going on holiday felt they need not bother.

But "part of what is wrong with British industry" was "the culpability of employers in failing to make it clear to young people that modern languages are important", he said.


The National Centre for Languages (Cilt) said there were no quick fixes.

As a result of real concerns, highlighted in Lord Dearing's languages review, new initiatives were in train to arrest the decline and motivate pupils.

Cilt's chief executive, Isabella Moore said: "A more diversified language offer within the new 14-19 curriculum, which stimulates students' interests and is more responsive to individual and employers' needs, is within reach but will take time to achieve."

Schools Minister Jim Knight said: "Our long-term, radical measures will increase the number of people studying languages at GCSE, A-level and beyond".

These include making languages compulsory in primary schools.

'Lighter options'

The director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD), Miles Templeman, said that seeking to pin a decline in GCSE language entries on employers was misguided.

"Presumably employer demand is also responsible for this year's rises in religious studies and physical education entries," he said.

Students made the choices, with teachers and parents, to reflect their own interests and abilities as well as employment prospects.

"Equally clear is the fact that the government is right to focus efforts on primary education and on fostering a love of languages among young children.

"For older pupils, it should also explore approaches to teaching a range of languages at a lighter, conversational level, for example by following the IoD's suggestion for a GCSE in several languages."

ICT changes

Other shifts in popularity in the GCSEs highlighted by the Joint Council for Qualifications included a revival of sciences, following changes to the curriculum.

Figures showed that about 57,000 youngsters had taken the new science qualification after only one year rather than two - in Year 10 of their schooling.

There were mixed fortunes for another subject which, like languages, is no longer compulsory beyond the age of 14 in England: information and communication technology (ICT).

GCSE entries fell 9.1% to 99,656 and the Applied GCSE double award suffered a 37% decline.

The change was described as "really quite interesting" by Dr Cresswell - given that, last year, entries had "shot up". It was too early to discern a trend.

The managing director of the Edexcel exam board, Jerry Jarvis, said there had been a considerable migration to some of the newer vocational qualifications such as his board's diploma in digital applications (Dida) and OCR Nationals.

He said this was because students felt they were "more relevant".

But also schools know that they can be worth the equivalent of up to four good GCSEs in the school league tables.

Edexcel says it had approximately 200,000 Dida entries in 2007 with more than 138,000 certificated completions, with other students taking BTec Firsts, also worth four GCSEs.

But these are not reported with the GCSE results. Edexcel has called for a "national vocational results day".

The boom in religious studies mentioned by the IoD saw another 7.2% rise in entries this year, to 171,123 - putting it in 10th place overall.

The top 10 subjects, driven largely by curriculum demands, were unchanged except that French and history swapped places in the middle of the table - though history also suffered a decline.

As a percentage, the biggest rise was a huge 199% in additional maths, albeit to only 9,793 entries in total.

Statistics as a subject was up 21% to 82,682, and media studies up 15.5% to 66,425.