Fall in GCSE entries in 2016 leads to fall in A level entries 2018I attended the JCQ Briefing for the summer 2018 GCE AS and A level today.
It is no surprise in the light of an 8% drop in GCSE entries for French from 2015 to 2016 , that there should be a similar drop of 8% in A level entries from 2017 (9,468 entries) to 2018 (8,713).
The drop in GCSE in 2016 was a clear consequence of having severe grading in modern languages together with the new Progress 8 accountability measure. (The EBacc 3 bucket meant that schools would choose to encourage students to take science, history and geography rather than modern languages because of the grading.)
We also know that funding pressures mean that post-16 institutions are under pressure not to offer subjects where numbers are dropping. This has particularly affected German, where there was a greater drop (16.5%) so that there were only 3,058 entries in 2018 (3,663 in 2017). Spanish saw a drop (4%) in the number of A level entries with 8,255 (8,601 in 2017).
Separately, languages where the entry will be predominantly from native speakers have collectively increased by 3.1% with 9,673 entries in 2018 (9,386 entries in 2017). Within this there are significant variations within the various languages, Chinese having the largest increase (up 8.6% to 3,334) and Russian also up 3.4% to 1,160. It will be interesting to have more information about the entries from independent boarding schools.
The good news from the perspective of students and teachers is that the grade distribution has remained consistent from 'old style' to 'new style' specifications. Ofqual have made decisions that are right for the students; in particular, the percentage of A stars has been broadly maintained following the necessary adjustments over the last couple of years to achieve comparability with other facilitating subjects. (See my post for A level L results 2017).
Teachers have had to work very hard to prepare for the new specifications with unhelpfully compressed lead-in time. Students have had to cope with the issue of having two years' worth of work being assessed at the end of the course.