GCSE 2012 : OVERALL NUMBERS FOR LANGUAGES SLIGHTLY UP, BUT FRENCH AND GERMAN CONTINUE TO FALL.

The provisional GCSE results for 2012 were published today. After the decline in languages entries over recent years (and a very sharp fall in entries last year) they show a small increase in take up for languages in the UK. Overall numbers have increased from 309397 to 315444, up by 1.95%. This compares with a total entry for all GCSEs which has increased by 1.42%.

Behind the overall figure there is a continuing change in emphasis in relation to individual language choices. Last year French remained fairly steady (down by 785 entries, or 0.5%) but German fell by a further 5.5% (3340 fewer entries). Both Spanish and “other” languages increased their numbers quite significantly. Spanish was up by nearly 10% to 72606 and “other” increased by over 13% to 29843.

In the last three years German entries have fallen by over 21%, from 73469 in 2009 to 57547 in 2012, while French has fallen from over 188000 to 153436 (down 18.7%). Over the same period Spanish has increased by 8.25% to 72606. Despite the increase this year “other” languages have declined in numbers since 2009, mainly because of a significant drop in Chinese entries in 2011.

The slightly more hopeful, if mixed, picture for languages compares with a steady increase in entries for English (3%) and History (2%) and significant expansion of science entries (Physics has increased by over 12% and for the first time has more entries than French). Design Technology and Art, on the other hand have seen a decline in numbers

Much of the initial press reporting on GCSE has concentrated on the fall in A*s and As which it is believed is a response to Government concerns about grade inflation. This does not seem to be a major issue for languages. French and German A* and As are more or less the same percentages as last year, Spanish is slightly down while Other Languages have increased the numbers of high grades.