Education unions in England warned that students are turning away from taking English and humanities at the A-levels following major reforms and the government’s narrowing focus on science and maths. Figures from examination regulator Ofqual show a significant decline in the number of students choosing to study English, geography, history, religious studies, foreign languages and the arts at the A-levels.
Official statistics reveal that the uptake of German by students has fallen 16 percent and in geography, it has dropped 11 percent. Over two years, entries for A-level English have dropped 14 percent from 78,795 in 2016 to 67,865 this year. Suzanne O’Farrell, an assessment specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders said that the trend is really worrying because “English is hugely valuable in all sorts of jobs”.
The government’s focus on improving the take-up of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects could have played a part as statistics show that sciences and maths did not suffer the same fate at the A-level. Jill Stokoe, a policy advisor at the National Education Union, said that another reason for the decline could be the government’s exam reforms: “With English, history and geography, it could be that the difficulty of the new GCSE specification has put people off at A-level”.
Undeniably, it will be worrying if this trend of declining numbers taking English at the A-levels continues. Already, many of the younger generation are substituting proper words with short form, abbreviations and emoticons in formal communication. This could lead to a frustrated world of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Mastery of English is thus important to ensure that people are able to communicate effectively with one another.
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