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Language GSCE mandatory for all new Year 7s ?

(64 Posts)
mjuyhn234 Mon 13-Jul-15 14:06:04

Attended my DS induction evening last week where it was announced that in line with latest gov policy all Year 7s would be required to study the Ebacc subjects, one of which is a language up to GSCE level.

It'll also play a part in the Progress 8 measure. In order for a school to do 'well' , pupils will need to study a language. i.e. if they don't study a language, then 10% of the progress 8 measure will automatically =0 as that particular ‘e-bacc' slot will be empty.

schoolsweek.co.uk/all-pupils-to-take-ebacc-subjects-to-age-16-says-schools-minister/

Happy for any secondary teachers to correct me. Slowly getting my head around this measure and what impact it will have on my sons education. I have sympathy for schools as they have to work with the measure that the gov has thrown at them but it won’t help DS!

I'm annoyed about this as it wont be in my sons best interest to study a language, he has issues with literacy and Ed Phy report has suggested we steer well clear of MFL. His time would be better spent doing something he can achieve at rather than scraping a pass on a subject he already dislikes. He’s had French for an hour a week since year 3 and its not an area of natural ability!

DS will attend the local upper where traditionally about a third do a language GSCSE. I guess they will have to employ more MFL teachers to cope with the demand for the kids doing GSCEs in 2020 as practically all will need to do a language. If they don’t, then the school risks lower scores on the Progress 8 measure.

I think it should be sufficient to study a language until age 14 and optional thereafter.

If a child has low literacy scores, I can’t see any benefit to that child in learning an MFL.

titchy Mon 13-Jul-15 14:21:57

Progress 8 doesn't have to include an MFL - it has to include 3 'EBacc' as well as English and Maths, but the 3 Ebacc subjects could be Science, Computing and History if the school wished.

Progress 8

mjuyhn234 Mon 13-Jul-15 15:28:19

Well my reading of it is that kids sitting their GSCEs in 2020 will have to sit a language GSCE anyway.

It may well have to count towards the Progress 8 as they may not have studied another qualifying ebacc subject to fit the slot. I'm sure some schools will be be forced down the MFL route. DS school doesnt offer Triple/Computer Science for example.

titchy Mon 13-Jul-15 15:45:32

Double science plus history, or single science, history and geography would still count.

And why on earth doesn't your school offer triple science? Or is it not mainstream?

mjuyhn234 Mon 13-Jul-15 16:05:01

Double Science, no triple . Its an Upper that is an academy. Its not unusual in that it doesn't offer triple from my research. I wish it did.

I'd assume DS would take Geography, History too literary for him.

My point is that Gov has decided that Language GCSE is mandatory for 2020 GCSEs, think it was announced in June and Upper is responding to change in the goal posts. If kids have to study that language GCSE anyway, why would a school put the pressure of them trying yet another 'ebacc' GCSE ?

When I did the tours of the local schools, it seemed MFLs were the reserve of the more able kids.

FuzzyWizard Mon 13-Jul-15 18:27:42

Language GCSE will indeed be mandatory for his year group and he will need to do either history or geography.
There may be some exceptions made for reasons to do with diagnosed SEN but the government has made clear that any school not routinely entering "100%" for the ebacc will likely be restricted to an ofsted rating of "Requires Improvement" as they have said that the "top grades" (plural!) will not be allowed to be given.

FuzzyWizard Mon 13-Jul-15 18:29:39

There is no reason why MFL has to be the reserve of the high ability. It was compulsory at my school and I went to a fairly rubbish bog standard comp. I think it is really useful for helping kids with their English language too.

thehumanjam Mon 13-Jul-15 18:33:22

Does this come into effect with the new year 7s? I had read that it came into effect with the current year 9s but I thought that couldn't be correct as we haven't received any communication from our school.

FuzzyWizard Mon 13-Jul-15 18:37:23

New year 7s... Although I'd expect schools to start moving in that direction sooner so you may see extra Key Stage 3 language or history/geography lessons or more restricted option choices for those in year 8-9 next year. This is mostly to do with schools gearing up in terms of staffing.

mjuyhn234 Mon 13-Jul-15 20:28:20

When I visited my local uppers, I was struck by the feedback from teachers I spoke to that MFLs were best suited to the more able. I wasn’t educated in the UK so was a bit taken aback by this attitude but figured that they most know what they were talking about. Now they’ll have to teach everyone and staff up. Good news I suppose if you are an MFL teacher/tutor. I can imagine it causing a major headache for secondary schools.

In my secondary school days everyone did at least French. I did French and German, can’t say they’ve helped me much in my chosen career. I went down the Engineering route and was very glad to ditch them even though they didn’t pose any particular difficulties for me.

Alas DS will struggle. He’d be much better off learning how to code than learning an MFL. More beneficial to the economy too ;)

Looks like I will have to get him past GCSEs and then he’ll have the freedom to concentrate on the things he can achieve at. I find it depressing.

Not sure why the latest edict places such an emphasis on MFL and Geography/History for the education of the masses! I haven’t seen any solid research to back it up.

Good article here on Progress 8
headguruteacher.com/2015/05/02/progress-8-looks-like-data-garbage-to-me/

SallyMcgally Mon 13-Jul-15 20:30:43

It's all part of having a more rounded education. My DS's school forces everyone to do three sciences, and nobody seems to complain about that at all (except me); I'm always bemused at why people get so much more het up over languages.

Leeds2 Mon 13-Jul-15 20:34:22

My DD (just finished Year 12) had to do a MFL (or Latin) at GCSE. I honestly thought most schools did the same.

thehumanjam Mon 13-Jul-15 21:08:52

I was reading that unless schools enter 100% of their pupils for the Ebacc they will not be able to be rated Ofsted outstanding.

I disagree with this. At ds's school
(which incidentally has a high take-up of Ebacc subjects) there is a small minority of pupils that opt for more vocational subjects, forcing them to do subjects that they struggle in is counter-productive. It's important that we offer an education for all pupils, some pupils will struggle get to the magic C's or grade 4/5 under the new system and it's wrong to insist that they study for subjects that they just won't excel in just to fulfil an unrealistic target. I'm not talking about average pupils that could pass with hard work and good teaching, I'm referring to pupils that leave primary school on NC level 3 or even 2. School should be an enjoyable experience for every pupil where you are encouraged to reach your potential not a hard slog with poor grades to show for your efforts.

YeOldTrout Mon 13-Jul-15 21:47:56

Are there enough MFL teachers for almost all yr7s to take GCSE MFL??

CamelHump Mon 13-Jul-15 22:28:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pointythings Mon 13-Jul-15 22:37:22

I think there are two things going on here:
1) the government's intention to 'raise standards' by setting the bar higher (but without any evidence base, without extra resources, without piloting and without any proper planning. So far, so typical.

2) a well intentioned attempt to deal with the British utter crapness at languages. Sorry, but it's true. I'm from Holland - in every stream (schools are streamed by ability), every student must take English as well as Dutch. Why do you think the Dutch are so good at languages?

We need to foster a culture where learning a foreign language is the norm for everyone. As a pp has said, it fosters a better understanding of one's own language as well. The only problem is that everything I have listed under point 1) means that this way of doing it is going to be yet another utter failure.

LaVolcan Mon 13-Jul-15 22:46:33

a well intentioned attempt to deal with the British utter crapness at languages.

Well said, and I am British. It beats me why we think languages have to be an academic subject.

thehumanjam Mon 13-Jul-15 22:54:45

When should we start teaching languages? Mine started French at a very basic level from year 3. Lots of friends enrolled their kids in private French/Spanish lessons from around reception age but my children were still struggling in the English language at that age and I thought it would have been too much of a challenge to introduce them to another language for an hour a week. I have no language skills so would not have been able to extend their understanding at home.

What do they do differently in Europe? Why are they so much better at it than us?

SallyMcgally Mon 13-Jul-15 23:05:32

They recognise in Europe that learning one language well raises literacy in your own language as well as facilitating further language learning. We have an entrenched phobia of and resistance to language learning and are convinced it ruins English. The reverse is true. Because language learning has been denigrated for so long we don't always recruit the most gifted teachers. And we don't exploit enough opportunities like employing Erasmus students on their year abroad to work in our schools. There's a little bit of that, but nowhere near enough.

mjuyhn234 Mon 13-Jul-15 23:13:23

English is the common language of commerce, it's to your advantage to know it, hence why other European countries promote English in their education system, it's in their economic interest, that's the reality.

In the UK, just so happens the first language is English, so we don't have the same 'incentive'.

enderwoman Mon 13-Jul-15 23:14:57

If the government was serious about MFL they would start by tackling the usually farcical ks2 learning. My kids learn(ed) French and it's quite frankly a waste of time. For an hour a week they'd sing songs or repeat the same vocabulary that they have been learning since y3. At the local secondary they are taught by an excellent MFL teacher who speaks 7 languages but obviously primary schools can't employ a proper MFL teacher like that without government intervention like cash and trained staff.
I don't rate ks3/ks4 MFL either. In other countries people are able to read books /novels in a foreign language. My kids are on track for a top grade but certainly couldn't pick up a picture book or simple novel in German and understand it.

chicaguapa Tue 14-Jul-15 06:51:15

DH's school isn't complying with this and is prepared to sacrifice its Outstanding status to do so. There are 7 or 8 other schools in the area doing the same so I think they're hoping to be able to make some kind of stand against it.

As a staunch comprehensive the HT very strongly believes in a well-rounded education so won't shoe horn anyone into what the government wants. He does encourage all DC to take a language at GCSE but will let those who feel strongly against it opt out.

It's an Academy which probably helps.

I do feel that everyone should study a language and agree with a PP that MFL provision at KS2 is woeful. But with a strongly academic DD who's being 'encouraged' to take a subject such as art, graphics or a tech where she shows no ability, I do understand why someone might feel unhappy about being made to take a language when they could take something else and achieve a better grade (and enjoy it a great deal more).

FuzzyWizard Tue 14-Jul-15 07:09:30

That's very brave chica! Not many Heads would be willing to go from outstanding to RI. I think any resistance will be dealt with pretty swiftly though... As soon as the first few schools get ofsteded, declared RI and HTs replaced the rest will son fall in line. sad

FuzzyWizard Tue 14-Jul-15 07:13:59

Having said that I broadly agree with all students doing the ebacc. I just think the way this has been done is underhanded, rather than just make it a legal requirement the government has passed the buck to Headteachers. They really have no choice but to implement this although the government wants to make it look as if they do.

enderwoman Tue 14-Jul-15 07:37:49

When I did O levels I took 8 which was academically rigorous and broad enough for A levels and working life.

My kids are doing 12 which is pretty normal here but it makes you wonder if kids of the future will be doing 15 or 20 GCSEs. They seem to be good at languages but there are other subjects that are pointless time fillers for them like RE.

On subject of Ebacc do university or FE colleges entry requirements or specify Ebacc or do they say "5 GCSE including maths and English"?

This is a bit silly but I'm also baffled why despite the government using Ebacc as a measure, they don't offer children a Ebacc certificate if they achieve it.

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