Number of students taking English A-levels has slumped2 min read

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Number of students taking English A-levels has slumped because they are put off by a ‘dull’ GCSE course, teachers warn

  • Fewer pupils want to continue their study of the subject after sitting their GCSEs
  • Majority of English teachers  surveyed by the English and Media Centre (EMC) 
  • Some 82 per cent of respondents had seen a fall for English language A-level

The number of children taking English A-levels is falling because they were bored by their ‘dull’ and ‘dry’ GCSE courses, teachers have warned.

Schools are now dropping the subject as fewer pupils want to continue their studies into the sixth form after sitting the recently revamped GCSEs aged 16.

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The majority of English teachers surveyed by the English and Media Centre (EMC) reported a decline in students opting for A-levels in English language, English literature and the combined English language and literature qualification in their schools.

Schools are now dropping English A-levels as fewer pupils want to continue their study of the subject after sitting the recently revamped GCSEs aged 16. (Stock image)

 Schools are now dropping English A-levels as fewer pupils want to continue their study of the subject after sitting the recently revamped GCSEs aged 16. (Stock image)

Some 82 per cent of respondents said there had been a fall for English language A-level, while 79 per cent said the same for A-level English literature. 

Nearly all respondents – 99 per cent – reported a fall in A-level take-up of the combined course, according to the findings, published in the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

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Teachers said one of the reasons behind the decline was ‘students not enjoying GCSE English’, adding a key factor was the ‘dry’ nature of reformed English GCSEs – introduced in 2015 as part of a wholesale revamp by former education secretary Michael Gove.

The new English literature qualification focuses more on classic literature, while English language makes good spelling and grammar a higher priority. 

The majority of English teachers surveyed by the English and Media Centre (EMC) reported a decline in students opting for the subject. (Stock image)

The majority of English teachers surveyed by the English and Media Centre (EMC) reported a decline in students opting for the subject. (Stock image)

One staff member responded to the survey: ‘GCSE syllabuses just aren’t sufficiently stimulating and engaging – students are switched off.’

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The survey, sent to 200 schools, showed 47 per cent of teachers said A-level English language and literature was no longer offered, while 15 per cent said A-level English language had been axed.

However, only 1 per cent said the same for A-level English literature.

The EMC’s Barbara Bleiman told the TES: ‘Teachers say it is the ‘dry’, ‘dull’, ‘narrow’ GCSEs, particularly English language, that are switching them off in droves.’

The Department for Education is unable to comment due to purdah rules.

 

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