Closed petition Introduce a Telugu GCSE

Telugu is the 3rd most spoken language in India and ranks 15th in the world. Currently there are over 50,000 Telugu people spread across the UK. In spite of this Telugu is not available as a GCSE subject. We want the government to support the heritage language speakers by introducing GCSE in Telugu.

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A majority of heritage language speakers in the UK have an opportunity to sit for a GCSE in their language. Unfortunately, Telugu people don’t. A chance to get a grade or a certificate by a worldwide recognised board like GCSE at the end of learning telugu gives a sense of achievement and motivates students to learn and work harder with a clearer goal. British Telugus should have a GCSE in Telugu like majority of the heritage language speakers in the UK so they can learn in a structured way.

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Government responded

This response was given on 10 January 2022

Exam boards are responsible for deciding which language GCSEs are offered. The Government would support exam boards in developing a language GCSE– including in Telugu – if there is sufficient demand.

Read the response in full

Deciding which languages are offered at GCSE is the responsibility of exam boards.

The Government is committed to increasing the number of pupils studying languages to GCSE level, including languages that are commonly spoken in modern day Britain. It is for this reason that teaching of languages is in the national curriculum from age 7 to 14, and why GCSEs in languages are included as part of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) suite of subjects.

At present, there is no GCSE in Telugu. Exam boards can produce a GCSE in any modern language, and this decision would be informed by a number of important factors, including the level of demand from schools and the proportion of the population in the UK speaking the language. Thus, there is no reason in principle why a GCSE in Telugu could not be introduced, and the Government would support any exam board wishing to do so. This is, however, at the discretion of exam boards to determine whether or not there was a strong case to do so.

There are currently eighteen GCSEs in different modern languages produced and currently offered by exam boards in England. The specification for these qualifications must meet the Department for Education GCSE subject content requirements for modern languages, last published in 2015, and are accredited by the independent qualifications regulator, Ofqual.

Two exam boards that provide GCSEs in England, AQA and Pearson Edexcel, currently offer language GCSEs in a number of other languages spoken in India, including Bengali, Gujarati and Panjabi. This is in part reflected by languages spoken in this country other than English. Thus, in 2013, the Office for National Statistics undertook an analysis of languages in England and Wales by using data from the 2011 Census. Not taking into account English, it was found that Panjabi (273,000) was the second most common language spoken by 0.5% of the population; Bengali (221,000) the fourth most common; and Gujarati (213,000) the fifth most common. Other commonly spoken languages were Polish (546,000), Urdu (269,000) and Arabic (159,000). It is therefore reasonable to expect that GCSEs are available in all six of the most commonly spoken languages in England.

The Government recognises the importance of language learning. Studying a language can be extremely rewarding and exciting, providing an insight into other cultures and opening the door to travel and a wide range of employment opportunities. Languages can also broaden pupils’ horizons, helping them flourish in new environments and, in many cases, increase community cohesion.

It is, however, up to schools to decide which languages are taught as part of their curriculum, both at primary and secondary school, and the government does not specify which languages should be taught or how to teach them. When deciding which languages to offer their pupils, schools are likely to consider the needs of the community in which they serve.

Department for Education