The chaos over this year’s exam results meant that the JCQ only belatedly published GCSE entry figures with which we can make a valid comparison with previous years. As with A levels, entry figures for the languages most often studied outside mainstream schools have dropped substantially, most probably because of difficulties submitting teacher-assessed grades.
Here is a review of 2020 entries in comparison with 2019:
Entries for all subjects rose by 3%, with entries for French, German, and Spanish combined also rising by 3% – confirmation of the levelling out of previous declines we have seen over the past 3 years or so. Within this group of languages – those most commonly taught in schools – we also see a continuation of the trend towards increasing numbers taking Spanish (+7% this year on 2019). Entries for French increased by 1% and German declined by 1%, both welcome signs given declines of 22% and 29% respectively in these languages over the preceding five years.
Entries for other languages have fared much worse in 2020. As a group, the ‘lesser-taught’ languages have declined by 28% compared to 2019, after remaining fairly stable over the previous five years. That previous stability among the group as a whole masked substantial variations between different languages, with Chinese, Arabic, and Polish seeing heathy increases, while Panjabi, Urdu and Japanese saw declines. Between 2019 and 2020, only one language saw increased entries – Modern Hebrew. With that exception, there were fewer entries for all the lesser taught languages with declines ranging from -48% for Polish to -10% for Chinese.
Full figures here: