Languages GCSE entries up by 3%

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Spanish GCSE entries were up 7.5% on last year.

GCSE results

The number of students taking language GCSEs has jumped by almost 10,000, as Spanish entries topped 100,000 for the first time.

There were 308,047 entries into modern foreign language GCSEs in 2019, an increase of three percent on 2018’s total of 299,172.

There were 102,242 GCSEs awarded in Spanish this year, a 7.5% increase on the number of  students taking the exam last year.

French also saw a three percent increase in uptake, with 130,831 entries in 2019, up from 126,750 in 2018.

This is only the second time the number of French entries has increased year-on-year since 2001.

However, despite the popularity of French and Spanish, other modern foreign languages are struggling to attract students.

The number of German entries fell to 42,791 this year, down almost four percent on 2018 when 44,535 qualifications were awarded.


More niche languages also saw a drop in numbers, with Chinese falling from 4,410 entries to 3,201, and Bengali having only 570 entries, compared to 648 last year.

In 2010, there were 362,338 entries for modern foreign languages, including almost 330,000 for French, Spanish and German.

The British Council believe people should be aware of the significant decrease in languages students over the last ten years.

Vicky Gough, the organisation’s schools adviser said: “It’s encouraging that GCSE numbers are picking up, but this has to be seen as a slight recovery from a huge drop over more than a decade.


“Languages underpin our relationships with other countries. They are vital to the UK’s future prosperity, security, and global influence and they are important to pupils because they open doors to new people, places, and cultures.”

Geoff Barton, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders shares similar concerns about the overall drop in students taking language exams.

He told the PA news agency: “If you look at the long-term trend, languages are still way behind where they were in 2010, so whilst it’s encouraging to see the increase in Spanish and French today, German is looking very precarious in state schools.”

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