A levels: more students for maths, physics and chemistry but fewer for french and german

Analysis of the latest A level results suggest a trend towards more students studying subjects like maths, physics and chemistry but at the same time a continuing decline in the numbers taking foreign language subjects including german, french and spanish.


Consider the following reports, first from the Telegraph…

A-level results: Teenagers flocking to traditional subjects

Teenagers are flocking back to traditional qualifications such as mathematics, physics and chemistry in order to secure good jobs, A-level results revealed today.

Academic disciplines such as mathematics, further maths, physics and chemistry all featured among the 10 fastest growing A-level subjects in Britain this year.

According to figures, almost 86,000 teenagers studied maths alone – the second most popular subject in the sixth-form after English – and more than 49,000 took exams in chemistry.

The growth is believed to be driven by the recession as sixth-formers increasingly focus on courses more likely to lead to a decent job.

It also reflects demand among university admissions tutors for students to stretch themselves by taking the most difficult sixth-form subjects.

More at: A-level results: Teenagers flocking to traditional subjects


Then in the Guardian we have concern at the declining numbers studying foreign languages…

A-level foreign languages decline alarms examiners

French, German and Spanish entries all down this year, and headteachers say strategy to promote languages is overdue.

The numbers of British teenagers learning European languages fell again in this year’s A-levels, prompting examiners to speak of a crisis in the subjects.

Entries in French declined to about 12,500 this year, and the number of candidates taking German dropped below 5,000. The number of entries for Spanish declined slightly, at 7,351 this year compared with 7,610 in 2011, although the trend over the last five years is up.

There was a modest rise in the take-up of other languages. Entries for A-level Polish rose from 844 last year to 923, and there were 3,425 entries for Mandarin, compared with 3,237 in 2011. Arabic, Japanese and Russian entries also climbed.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of the AQA exam board, said the drop in the number of people taking A-levels in traditional modern foreign languages was a real worry. “We have the euro economy in crisis – I think modern foreign languages are in the same place,” he said.

There was no magic bullet to fix the problem, Hall said, but he welcomed the government’s move this year to introduce modern languages in primary schools.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the OCR exam board, said universities had made it clear they wanted students with qualifications in science and maths. “I’m not sure the message has been as strong around languages, so they could assist in this approach,” he said.

The 10 most popular subjects, in order, were: English, maths, biology, psychology, history, chemistry, art and design studies, general studies, physics and media studies.

More at: A-level foreign languages decline alarms examiners

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