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The British Academy responds to Ofqual’s decision to adjust grading standards for GCSE languages

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The British Academy has responded to the decision by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) to adjust grading standards for GCSE French and German.

The Academy, along with teachers and other subject experts, has previously expressed concerned that fewer students are choosing to study modern foreign languages at GCSE and A level because they believe it is harder to achieve top grades in these subjects compared to others. Ofqual has announced that it will adjust grading standards for GCSE French and German, bringing them in line with Spanish, ahead of the 2020 exam series.

Responding to Ofqual’s decision, Professor Neil Kenny, Lead Fellow for Languages at the British Academy, said:

"The British Academy welcomes Ofqual’s decision to address the unduly severe grading of French and German GCSE by aligning grading standards with those used for Spanish. This is an important step towards ensuring that students of modern foreign languages receive an equitable and appropriate reward for their achievements. We hope that Ofqual will further consider the question of severe grading of modern foreign language examinations at A-level too.”

Earlier this year the British Academy called for a national strategy for languages to enable the UK to meet its linguistic potential at all levels, from early years education through to adulthood.

Evidence shows that learning a language enhances other cognitive skills, such as creativity (according to the British Academy’s report, The Cognitive Benefits of Language Learning), and can be highly beneficial for a range of careers.