Provisional GCSE results data published today by the DfE shows an increase in the number of pupils entered for the EBacc, but a marked decline in the number of students taking modern foreign languages. Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders union NAHT, commented:
“There has been a decline in the number of French and German GCSEs taken this year – and a decline in the results too. 77.7% of those pupils who entered four out of the five EBacc components were missing the languages component in 2016 (up from 67.4% in 2015). The government will find it impossible to meet their targets of 90% EBacc take-up if this trend continues. It is estimated that over 3,000 extra language teachers would be needed to meet this requirement.
“The proportion of pupils entering and achieving the EBacc continues to increase, with 39.6% of pupils in state-funded schools entering the EBacc in 2016 and 24.5% achieving. But although entries have increased by 1%, achievement has only increased by 0.6%. This is a continued focus for real concern - the disparity between the numbers of pupils entering the EBacc and the numbers actually achieving it is the clearest evidence that the EBacc is not the right curriculum for the proposed 90% of the cohort. It is right that every student should have the opportunity to take the full suite of EBacc subjects if they want to, but not that every student should be forced to.
“We ask the government to look again at the aim that 90% of students must be entered for the EBacc as it stands. We question the need for further accountability measures when the Progress 8 measure already reflects the important commitment for pupils to study a core of academic subjects as part of a broad and balanced curriculum.”