It is “pure fantasy” to imagine that controversial changes to the way GCSE French, Spanish and German are assessed will lead to 90 per cent of pupils taking these subjects.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has delivered a withering verdict on the reforms to the qualifications, which were confirmed by the Department for Education (DfE, 2022) last week.

The revised GCSEs are to be taught from September 2024 and the DfE says the updated curriculum for GCSE French, German and Spanish will “make learning languages more accessible”.

The reforms will see pupils assessed on the most common vocabulary used in conversations and writing.

Proposals to test pupils on knowing 1,200 words at foundation tier and 1,700 words at higher tier have, after consultation, been tweaked. Students will now be assessed on the basis of 1,200 or 1,700 “word families” – for example “manage”, “managed” and “manages”. The DfE says the changes will make it “clearer what they need to know”.

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