GCSE: Assessments

Department for Education written question – answered on 21st September 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Coussins Baroness Coussins Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage and support entrants to GCSE examinations in community languages for the 2020/2021 academic year.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

All pupils should have the opportunity to study foreign languages as part of a core academic curriculum and this should include community languages. The department recognises the importance of high quality qualifications in languages such as Polish, Urdu, Arabic, Bengali and Turkish.

At key stage 4, languages, including community languages, are included in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Since the introduction of the EBacc performance measure in 2010, the proportion of GCSE entries from pupils in state funded schools in a modern foreign language (MFL) has increased from 40 per cent in 2010 to 47 per cent in 2019.

As with any other GCSE subject, the department expects schools to provide appropriate support to pupils to prepare them for examinations. In relation to the 2020/21 academic year, the department’s guidance to schools reopening from September states that the curriculum should remain broad from year 7 to year 9 so that the majority of pupils are taught a full range of subjects over the year, including sciences, languages, humanities, the arts, physical education/sport, religious education and relationships, sex and health education. The guidance also sets out an expectation that the majority of year 10 and year 11 pupils continue to study their examination subjects, supporting them towards their preferred route to further study. The full opening of schools guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The department has invested in a range of programmes to increase uptake of languages at GCSE. The £2.41 million MFL Pedagogy Pilot commenced in December 2018 and is designed to improve uptake and attainment in languages at key stages 3 and 4.

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