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Students being deterred from languages by harsh marking


Teachers have warned that inconsistent and harsh marking is deterring students from studying languages for their GCSEs and A-levels.

This comes as more new GCSEs are set to be introduced in September, which are deemed as being more rigorous, and therefore more likely to put students off as they look to secure higher grades in supposedly easier subjects.

Compared to 2014, entries into the top three modern foreign language GCSEs fell this year. Spanish dropped 3 per cent, French fell 6 per cent, while German saw a sizeable 10 per cent decrease in the number of entries.

Teresa Tinsley, who was a co-author on the report, commented: “Languages are already one of the harder GCSEs, and teachers fear that with the new exams it will be even tougher for pupils o get a good grade. Combine this with the expectation that a wider range of pupils will be sitting the exam and it is not surprising that teachers feel embattled.”

“Improving their morale and confidence in the exam system is crucial if languages are to thrive in our schools.”

Exam regulators maintained that results show consistency each year, and explained that all results are reviewed to check that changes to exams are not having negative effects.

“We are committed to ensuring that all GCSEs, AS and A-levels – including those in modern foreign languages – are sufficiently valid, produce fair and reliable results, and have a positive impact on teaching and learning,” said a spokesperson for Ofqual, the exam regulator.

“Last year’s results in modern foreign languages were very stable, with only small changes in the proportions achieving each grade compared to the previous year.”