2013 GCSE Results

Languages show a dramatic rise in number of entries

The Joint Council for Qualifications released the following statement today (22/08/13):

Following years of decline, this year’s results show a dramatic rise in the number of entries for GCSE languages. Entries for traditional languages (French, German, Spanish) are up 16.9 per cent compared with last year (French up 15.5 per cent; German up 9.4 per cent; Spanish up 25.8 per cent). Of the three, only Spanish increased last year. French remains the most popular language taken by students with 177,288 entries.

Other modern languages rose by 5.1 per cent compared with a rise of 13.7 per cent in 2012. The most popular other modern languages are: Italian 5,136 entries; Urdu 4,519 entries; Polish 3,933 entries; Arabic 3,607 entries; and Chinese 3,042 entries.

You can read the full JCQ press release here

Ofqual to investigate variations in the number of A* and A grades

The Telegraph reports:

Ofqual is to launch an investigation into “variations” in the number of A* and A grades awarded in traditional sixth-form exams, it was revealed.

In a report, the regular said the proportion of top marks differed significantly between subjects each year.

It raised particularly concerns over modern foreign languages such as French, German and Spanish, with warnings that examiners award “relatively few” elite A*s compared with other disciplines.

Over the next year, the watchdog will evaluate the way subjects are graded “so that standards are as comparable and consistent as possible”, it emerged.

It is believed that the proportion of good marks will fail to rise for the second year running following a Government crackdown on “grade inflation”. In 2012, some 26.6 per cent of papers were awarded at least an A compared with 27 per cent a year earlier.

But Ofqual suggested that students’ chances of securing top grades depended on their choice of subject.

According to figures, 28.6 per cent of further maths papers were graded A* last year, while the number stood at 17.4 per cent for maths, 13.1 per cent for art and design, 10.7 per cent in the classics and 9.9 per cent in physics.

However, the proportion was as low as 2.4 per cent in ICT, 3.3 per cent in business studies, 3.7 per cent in drama, 6.3 per cent in geography and 6.8 per cent in English.

Only 6.8 per cent of French exams and 7.9 per cent of German papers gained A* despite the fact that languages are normally the preserve of the brightest pupils.

The Government has already outlined plans to overhaul A-levels with tougher questions and a greater focus on end-of-course exams.

Ofqual said it did not plan to “recalibrate” A-level standards when new courses are introduced in subjects such as English, science, maths, history and geography in 2015.

But Ofqual added: “There are two features of performance standards at present that we plan to address.

“First, relatively few A* grades are awarded in modern foreign languages when compared with other subjects with a high proportion of A grades. Secondly, there are variations in the proportion of A* to A grades awarded at A level each year in subjects.

“We plan to evaluate both of these features and to make improvements so that standards are as comparable and consistent as possible.”

The corporate plan – outlining Ofqual’s priorities over the next three years – also suggested that pupils were sitting too many exams, saying that it wanted to develop approaches to education “that do not assume that everything that should be taught should be assessed and contribute to the student’s grade for the subject”.

It also announced plans for a national sampling test for 16-year-olds that will be used to benchmark the difficulty level of future GCSE exams.

LINK DELETED: http://ofqual.gov.uk/news/ofqual-sets-out-plans-to-drive-qualification-improvement/

LINK DELETED: http://ofqual.gov.uk/files/2013-08-09-corporate-plan-2013-16.pdf



A Level Results 2013

A breakdown of the latest results revealed a big increase in the numbers taking maths and science subjects. The take-up of languages on the other hand, continues to decline. Although Spanish increased by 4.1 per cent, entries for French and German declined by 9.9 per cent and 11.1 per cent respectively.

This year science accounted 17.8 per cent of all subject entries – compared with 17 per cent last year. In maths and further maths, the figure went up from 11.5 per cent to 12 per cent.

The Telegraph and the Independent both led with articles on the disappointing take-up of languages: