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Fewer GCSE candidates taking languages

25/08/2010 Joanna
The number of GCSE students taking modern foreign languages has continued to decline.

Only 177,618 pupils sat French this year, meaning that for the first time it is no longer one of the ten most popular subjects.

GCSE German is also declining in popularity, with 4.5 per cent fewer candidates taking the exam this year, compared to 2009.

Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, said this trend is of "grave concern".

"Despite welcome growing interest in less traditional languages like Chinese, Portuguese and Polish, the current uptake of foreign languages is inadequate to meet the needs of our universities, economy and society," she stated.

It is important that people are given the right advice when deciding which subjects to drop, Dr Piatt added.

Although language take-up has fallen, the number of students taking individual science subjects is on the increase.

However, Dr Piatt said it is worrying that only 3.9 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals sat separate science GCSEs this year.

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