Ofqual review is 'missed opportunity' on languages

21 November 2018

Commenting on Ofqual’s review of ‘inter-subject comparability’, Suzanne O’Farrell, curriculum and assessment specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

It’s disappointing that Ofqual has decided to take no significant action over severe grading in A-level languages despite finding that it’s harder to obtain top grades in these subjects than in many other subjects. We recognise that its analysis shows there are other subjects which are graded even more severely, but there is an urgent need to act on languages because of a national crisis in language learning which has seen entries plummet in French and German. 

Severe grading is not the only factor affecting uptake. These subjects are also impacted by a shortage of teachers and funding pressures. But the perception that it is harder to obtain top grades in languages is a significant element in deterring entrants, and today’s report is a missed opportunity to take action. We are pleased, however, that Ofqual will now be examining this issue at GCSE level.

On a wider note, we need the government to work with the education sector to develop a national strategy to improve the take-up of languages. We are becoming an increasingly monolingual society and we have to address this decline.