Decline in language GCSEs of 'grave concern', says Russell Group

24 August 2010

Commenting on the release of this year’s GCSE results, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, said:

“The rise in take up of single science GCSEs is a highly positive sign that schools and GCSE students are recognising the growing importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) to the future of our economy. However, it is worrying that just 3.9% of pupils eligible for free school meals sat separate science GCSEs this year. All students whether at state or independent schools should be encouraged to consider taking separate sciences at GCSE as they are important stepping stones to progression and success in A-level sciences. Evidence shows that pupils who take separate sciences at GCSE are more likely to take STEM subjects at A-level and are  more likely to get higher grades in A-level science compared to those who take double-science.

“The sharp decline in modern foreign languages, particularly French and German, is also of grave concern. Despite welcome growing interest in less traditional languages like Chinese, Portuguese and Polish, the current uptake of foreign languages is inadequate to meet the needs of our universities, economy and society. 

“It is crucial that students are given accurate information, advice and guidance when making choices about subject options which will affect their life chances.  Pupils from families with less experience of higher education are in particular need of good information and advice from their schools and careers services. Students who have aspirations towards competitive universities or career paths, should be made aware of and consider all aspects of the entrance requirements, including the GCSE or other standard level requirements.” 

Policy area

Related case studies