||<p>The department has several measures in place which aim to help reduce regional
variation in the uptake of languages at GCSE and A level. In our £4.8 million Modern
Foreign Language (MFL) Pedagogy pilot programme, one of the nine lead schools is in
an Opportunity Area and another is in the Opportunity North East area. The department
also launched a pilot project in MFL undergraduate mentoring for secondary school
pupils. This project targets areas of high disadvantage to extend access to languages
for all pupils and focuses on areas of low uptake.</p><p>Our new international school
exchange programme is aimed at young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and areas.
The department is also piloting a financial incentive to incentivise retention of
MFL teachers in 25 local authorities that are most in need.</p><p>The proportion of
pupils taking a language at GCSE declined after study of the subject was made non-compulsory
at key stage 4 in 2004. 79% of pupils aged 15 in all schools took a language GCSE
in 2000, but this had dropped to 43% of pupils at the end of key stage 4 in 2010.
We have introduced the English Baccalaureate performance measure to halt this decline.
Since 2010, the percentage of pupils in state-funded schools taking a language GCSE
has increased from 40% in 2010 to 46% in 2018. The reformed national curriculum now
makes it compulsory for pupils in maintained schools to be taught a foreign language
in key stage 2.</p>