GCSE languages crisis

Date: 06.03.2019

Foreign language learning is at its lowest level in UK secondary schools since the turn of the millennium, with German and French falling the most.

BBC analysis shows drops of between 30% and 50% since 2013 in the numbers taking GCSE language courses in the worst affected areas in England.

A separate survey of secondaries suggests a third have dropped at least one language from their GCSE options.

Figures for Wales showed that GCSE language entries fell by 29% over five years, and 35% of schools have dropped at least one language from their options at GCSE.

In Northern Ireland, the numbers taking modern languages at GCSE have fallen by 40% since 2003, with 45% of schools saying they have cut the numbers of specialist language teachers in the past five years.

Pupils in Scotland do not sit GCSEs or A-levels, but entries for the comparable exams - National 4 and 5 and Highers - are included in the analysis. These show that there has been a 19% decline in language entries there at National 4 and 5 level since 2014.