Government review seeks to make language subjects more accessible


The Department for Education is to seek ways of making modern foreign language GCSEs more accessible after an exam body revealed it is very difficult to gain top grades.

A review into the issue will be led by Tenax Schools Trust chief executive Ian Bauckham, on the back of comments by Ofqual which raised concerns over future pupil uptake in the subjects.

Ofqual has also revealed its intentions to make gaining top grades in GCSE French and German easier from 2020 amid fears that harsh grading is scaring pupils away from learning the subjects.

A key part of Ofqual’s report included concerns from teachers that the subjects are “too difficult” and that the content involved could be a factor in why pupils are opting for other subjects instead.

The report notes that it is “consistently harder” to get top marks in modern foreign languages than in other subjects.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said the department has taken note of what teachers, parents and Ofqual have said on the subject.

“An independent panel will review the content and recommend changes to ensure it is rigorous, as well as supporting high quality teaching and increasing take up amongst young people,” he explained.

Although the subjects are set to be made “more accessible”, every effort will be made to ensure that they are still academically demanding.

The latest move comes after the British Council Language Trends 2019 report revealed drops in entries for both French and German in recent years.

Mr Bauckman previously led a review of modern foreign language learning in 2016, which recommended that most young people should study at least one language until the age of 16.

The new review board includes several professors and consultants with backgrounds in language and education. An initial set of recommendations from the review is expected in spring 2020.

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