Welsh Language GCSE Results, 2014

Each year at this time I take a look at what the GCSE results can tell us about the way Welsh is taught in our schools.

There are three different types of Welsh GCSE: Welsh First Language, Welsh Second Language (full course) and Welsh Second Language (short course). However a substantial number of Year 11 students, even though they study Welsh, still do not take any Welsh GCSE. The number of entries for each can therefore be used as one indicator of the state of Welsh teaching in our schools.


This year the figures are again quite positive. Although the size of the cohort has decreased by about 1,100 compared with last year, the overall number taking Welsh GCSEs has increased by more than 200, and the number of students not taking any form of Welsh GCSE has fallen from 5,768 to 4,447 ... its lowest level ever in both numerical and percentage terms. These are the figures:

Total number of students aged 15 at start of year
35,262 (was 36,361) ... down 1,099

Welsh First Language
5,591 entries (15.86% of year) ... was 5,636 (15.50%) ... down 45 (up 0.36%p)

Welsh Second Language (full course)
10,566 entries (29.94% of year) ... was 10,183 (28.01%) ... up 383 (up 1.93%p)

Welsh Second Language (short course)
14,668 entries (41.60% of year) ... was 14,774 (40.63%) ... down 106 (up 0.97%p)

Total Welsh Entries
30,815 entries (87.39% of year) ... was 30,593 (84.14%) ... up 222 (up 3.25%p)

Number who did not take any Welsh GCSE
4,447 (12.61% of year) ... was 5,768 (15.86%) ... down 1,321 (down 3.25%p)

Source for GCSE results
Source for Cohort Size (Maintained Schools)
Source for Cohort Size (Independent Schools)

The graphs below show how the numbers and percentages have changed over the last couple of decades, and a spreadsheet with full details is available here:

Although the Welsh First Language entry is down very slightly in numerical terms, it has again risen in percentage terms. The long term trend should continue steadily upwards. The latest figure for Year 2 assessments in WFL is 22.4% of the cohort and, given the new emphasis on continuation between primary and secondary school, this should mean that the figure for WFL GCSE entries will be comfortably over 20% when these pupils reach Year 11.

In terms of Welsh Second Language teaching the percentage entries for both full and short course GCSEs have risen, but it is encouraging to note the significant increase in those taking the full GCSE rather than the short GCSE. It probably won't be very long before the short course is phased out altogether, and the challenge will be to make sure that pupils do in fact take the full GCSE exam rather than opt out of taking any exam in Welsh at all.

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Anonymous said...

Slow progress.

MH said...

Yes, I'd agree that it is slow progress, 18:49 and Lionel. What I'm doing is measuring it, year by year.

But it is progress. As I said, Welsh First Language is really going to increase in line with WM education. So we have a very good idea what the GCSE rate will be in 12 years' time by looking at the numbers entering reception now.

In terms of Welsh Second Language, I think we all realize it's a mess and needs a radical shake up. But I am very encouraged by the fact that the figure (for all GCSEs) was stuck in the low 60%s for several years but has, since 2008, steadily and rapidly increased. At this rate of increase, it means that virtually every child now starting secondary school will take a GCSE in Welsh. How many of us would have envisaged that ten years ago? In essence it's a reflection of the fact that taking a GCSE in Welsh is now seen as an essential part of education in Wales. This change of attitude is hugely important.

Of course, we've still go a long way to go, and it's still uncertain how the WG will want the way we teach Welsh to change. At the very least, the short course will be phased out and every child will take the full GCSE. If it is made a core subject, better still, it will give schools an incentive to set aside adequate teaching time and resources to it.

But even better would be to develop a single continuum making no distinction between Welsh to "first" and "second" language standards.

Welsh not British said...

The green sector is the best thing about the graphs for me. It's now down to <13%. When I left school in the mid 90s I was one of the 70% (???) that took no Welsh GCSE. In my school Welsh was poorly taught, many of the teachers told us it was a waste of time and many of us believed them.

I now use Welsh, albeit small amounts, everyday and the last time I used my French was about 13 years ago. The added irony is that the school I went to is now WM.

isa isa makeup said...

I enjoyed reading this

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