GCSE results revealed that French and other foreign languages are not so popular among pupils anymore while the number of students taking individual sciences has increased to 69.1%. This year entries for chemistry and physics GCSE have risen by 32%, for biology – up to 28% as an objection to pressure on university places.
In 2004 the government made language courses optional at GCSE and the number of students sitting them has reduced by a third. Nowadays more and more young people prefer to study art or geography for GCSE. French entries have dropped to 170,000 this year while German – to around 70,000. The number of students who study Mandarin, Portuguese, and Polish has increased.
On Tuesday 24, nearly 690,000 pupils from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland got their GCSE results and the UCU began to warn about the possible “domino effect” that could prevent some pupils from taking further education. More than 180,000 candidates have not got a university place yet. According to Ucas, 184,872 students were in clearing. This number matches free university places to universities without offers or those young people who have applied late. This year only 19,276 candidates received a place out of 612,947 who have applied.
The results revealed awareness of demand for single sciences such as biology, physics, and chemistry not only from universities but also from employers. This year almost 19% of students sat biology GCSE, while 17.5% took physics, and 18% took chemistry. First time French was not among the most popular subjects.
Ziggy Liaquat, managing director of the Edexcel exam board, wrote in his custom essay: "It's disappointing to see the decrease of languages." He adds: "There is a conversation to be had about how we do make languages more engaging, more interesting, more relevant for young people."
Nick Gibb, schools minister, congratulated young people on their results: "A number of academies have achieved exceptional GCSE results, including English and maths in areas where standards have previously been too low. For example, the Harris Federation has seen a 10 percentage point increase across all their academies, and ARK Academies have seen a 13 percentage point increase – a remarkable achievement and an example of what is possible with freedom, independence, and relentless focus on raising standards for all."