Language Trends Wales 2021: Language Teaching in Secondary Schools and Post-16 Colleges

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Headline Findings;

Despite a stable population of 16-year-olds in Wales between 2015 and 2021, GCSE entries for French and German have declined by almost half. Entries in GCSE Spanish have been erratic in the same period, but a notable increase between 2020 and 2021 is observed. If current trends continue without an urgent intervention at system-level, it is possible that there will be less than one hundred GCSE entries in French and German in Wales by 2030. Entries in Spanish will need to stabilise to ensure the long-term viability of this language. This will have an inevitable knock-on effect at A level, as well as the pipeline to Higher Education.
As was mirrored in other UK nations, Wales saw a considerable decline during the Covid-19 pandemic in GCSE and A level entries in international languages other than French, German and Spanish. This trend was largely caused by the way in which language learners in supplementary schools were unable to receive certification due to the pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a bigger negative impact in more deprived areas of Wales. Over half of teachers working in schools in areas of social deprivation reported a‘big negative impact’ on language learning.
Unlike other parts of the UK, schools’ engagement with international projects has remained steady during the past two years, though there is still much work to be done. Teachers are tobe commended for their agility in sustaining international work through online platforms.
Our data show that a significant majority of teachers in Wales are in favour of reviewing the content and assessment of GCSEs in French, German and Spanish. This follows years of teachers highlighting the difficulty of modern foreign language (now international language)exams in comparison with other subjects. It is thus pleasing that Qualifications Wales has committed to reviewing GCSEs in French, German and Spanish for first teaching from September 2025.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBritish Council
Number of pages44
Publication statusPublished - 08 Dec 2021


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