PROMOTION of the use of Welsh has been credited with helping a school achieve success in modern languages at A-level.
Among the top performers at Chepstow School were language students Emily Power and Madeline Smith.
Their teacher Oliver Walsh said being a bilingual school, and promotion of Welsh, has helped it buck the trend of declining numbers learning an international language.
A British Council report in 2022 found an “alarming decline between 2021 and 2022 in GCSE and A-level entries in French, German and Spanish.”
But Mr Walsh said while four students had studied A-level Spanish this year there will be some 34 or 35 learning the language at GCSE in September, which he said is a larger number than the previous year.
“I would say Spanish is alive and kicking in this school we’ve consistently had an A-level class for the last seven years and the numbers have been really strong though I can’t speak for the national picture,” said Mr Walsh.
He credited the school’s “culture” for making learning languages attractive and said: “Being a bilingual school with children taught Welsh and the promotion of the use of Welsh makes modern languages attractive.”
Among his students celebrating success on results day were Emily Power who gained an A* in Spanish, along with top grades in English literature and sociology, and Madeline Smith who had an A in Spanish while she also gained an A* in French to complement two further top marks in maths and further maths.
Ms Power, 18, will now study Spanish at Cardiff University but is undecided on how she will use her language skills and said: “I’m not sure yet, I’ll see what happens in the future.”
Ms Smith, also 18, will attend Cambridge University to study modern and medieval languages which she said will also her follow changes in French and Spanish through history.
“I want to try and go as far as possible and the course is quite interesting as you study the changes through time.”
The British Council, which will issue its latest language trends Wales report in the autumn, said it was encouraged this year’s A-level entries for international languages have increased since 2022 but said it was concerned entries for all international languages are still down compared to the period before the pandemic.