Following a recommendation in the Dearing Review, languages will feature in new-look GCSE league tables from 2008, with schools ranked according to the percentage of pupils attaining at least a grade C in a modern foreign language.
There are a small number of related languages qualifications that will not be included in the performance indicators and the proposed changes are introduced in a document that can be downloaded from the School and College Achievement and Attainment Tables website.
Ministers hope the move will prompt head teachers to enrol more young people in language GCSEs and alter the decline in student numbers experienced since 2004, when languages were made optional from age 14. CILT, the National Centre for Languages carries out an annual survey to monitor the situation at KS4 and data reflecting the alarming changes in students’ uptake can be downloaded from www.cilt.org.uk/research/languagetrends.
Shadow schools minister Nick Gibb welcomed the changes. He said 'Including indicators in the core academic subjects of science and modern foreign languages as well as in English and mathematics will help address the drift away from these subjects in some secondary schools.'
This announcement was a discreet one, with only one indirect mention on the BBC education website
It will be interesting to see the impact the announcement will have on ensuring more equal access to languages, thus counteracting the fact that in many schools languages are becoming more and more an elitist subject.