Thousands of students at risk of losing out on ‘community language’ A-levels and GCSEs, report says

Thousands of students at risk of losing out on ‘community language’ A-levels and GCSEs, report says


Thousands of students at risk of losing out on ‘community language’ A-levels and GCSEs, report says

Thousands of students at risk of losing out on ‘community language’ A-levels and GCSEs, report says

Thousands of pupils are at risk of missing out on GCSEs and A-levels grades for languages this summer, according to a new report.

Pupils who planned to take exams for “community” languages – often not taught at school – could struggle to get marks through teacher assessment, a think-tank has said.

Global Futures warned of the potential for a repeat of last year, when they said many pupils studying subjects such as Gujarati, Polish and Turkish were unable to get grades after exams were cancelled.

Some 30,000 students enter for qualifications in community languages – minority languages within a society where a dominant language exists – in the UK every year, according to the think-tank.

Pupils can learn and prepare for exams with extra-curricular schools led by volunteers in the community, or with private tutors before sitting tests back at their normal school, a registered exam centre.

But with exams cancelled for two years in a row amid the coronavirus pandemic, GCSE and A-level grading was forced to change, with teachers submitting estimated grades last year for moderation.

When it came to students taking community languages, the Global Futures report said: “Most mainstream teachers understandably did not feel close enough to assess their students’ understanding of a subject they had never taught.

“However, rather than reaching out to these students or their supplementary schools, the many mainstream schools simply withdrew ‘community’ language students from their examinations.”

There was a 40-per-cent drop in community language entries for A-levels last year, and a 28-per-cent drop for GCSEs compared to the year before, the report, supported by the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education charity, said.

The government has said grades will be determined and awarded by teachers this summer, though no algorithm will be used to moderate grades like the year before.

Global Futures claimed there had been “no significant changes or support” to ensure pupils get assessed for community languages compared to last year.

“Mainstream schools are again withdrawing or refusing to enter students for subjects they do not learn in school,” its report said.

The think-tank called on ministers to put aside £3m in grants to help students pay to take exams at private exam centres this year, which have an approximate cost of £200 per entry.

“Because ‘community’ language students take their exams in smaller numbers than mainstream exams, it should be possible to assess them safely in this way,” the report said.

The most commonly used community languages in the UK are Urdu, Bangla and Punjabi, according to the National Association for Teaching English and Community Languages to Adults.

The Independent has contacted the Department for Education for comment.


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