However, Baroness Garden, Liberal Democrat education spokesman in the Lords, would not confirm that the last government’s pledge to introduce compulsory teaching of languages in from the age of seven, would be continued under the coalition government.
Baroness Garden, who was standing in for schools minister Lord Hill, said:
“Any increase in teaching foreign languages in schools will bring additional demands in terms of languages teachers and their training needs.
“We also need to consider whether foreign language teaching should continue in all primary schools.”
Baroness Coussins added that French had disappeared from the list of the top ten GCSE subjects this year, whilst pointing out that from the 27 European Union countries only Ireland spends less curriculum time devoted to language learning – with the UK spending a paltry 7 per cent of lesson time on languages. (See: UK Language Hours Half of EU Rivals for more on this issue)
75 per cent of Local Educational Authorities (LEAs) want languages to be compulsory in primary schools, according to Baroness Coussins, but a strategy to promote languages in education needs would also need to be implemented.
Baroness Coussins finished by saying:
“I do not believe that it would be right to force every child to take a language GCSE, but I do believe very strongly that it should be compulsory for every child to study at least one modern foreign language until they are 16, at a level appropriate to them. Certainly I believe that if compulsory language teaching up to the age of 16 is not reinstated, many other primary schools will surely not think it worth investing in language teaching for their seven-year-olds, only to send them to secondary school aged 11 where their achievement may not be valued or built on.”
At the debate Baroness Garden announced that plans for an English version of the International Baccalaureate would include a modern or ancient language.
- Le Carré opposes uni language cut (bbc.co.uk)
- No language GCSE means no sixth-form place, say top schools (independent.co.uk)
- GCSE results: Language lessons (telegraph.co.uk)