Community languages continue as vital part of our curriculum

22 Apr 2016

Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, announces the excellent news that GCSEs and A levels will continue in a range of community and less-widely taught languages:

Speak to the Future warmly congratulates the Secretary of State and her team at the DfE, and colleagues from Ofqual and the Awarding Organisations for overcoming a range of technical difficulties and securing the future of these highly valued languages within the accreditation framework. This is a further advance in the current government’s commitment to strengthening the country’s language capability and a recognition that every language is an asset in today’s hyper-connected, global economy.

Baroness Coussins, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages and President of Speak to the Future, warmly welcomed the announcement that the government had persuaded the exam boards to retain GCSE and A level in a wide range of lesser-taught languages.

Baroness Coussins said:

“Alongside French, German and Spanish, these are important languages for equipping the next generation of British school students with the life and career choices they deserve, as well as vital for the UK’s business, diplomacy and security needs.”

This positive outcome owes much to the many individuals, organisations and community groups who joined together with Speak to the Future in tirelessly raising concerns about the impending threat of losing qualifications in a range of community and less-widely taught languages. Our united voices have been heard and solutions found. GCSEs and A Levels will be developed in Arabic, Modern Greek, Gujarati, Bengali, Japanese, Modern and Biblical Hebrew, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Turkish and Urdu for first teaching from 2018. We note that the future of Dutch and Persian still remains unresolved and the search for an awarding organisation willing to develop these two languages continues.

Our challenge now will be to encourage take-up, strengthen support for curriculum development and increase teacher supply by providing accessible routes to qualified teacher status for teachers of less-widely taught languages. This is the time to make policy happen, and we can do this by working in partnership, developing a shared vision and building capacity. Current policy reform offers us exciting opportunities to develop strategic learning networks, connecting colleagues from mainstream and supplementary education, developing coherent pathways from primary through secondary and linking into higher education.

Bernardette Holmes said:

“This is our chance to initiate change and develop and implement a rich and diverse languages curriculum, which recognises the value of languages spoken in our communities and offers equality of opportunity for every learner to be a language learner.”

Once again, we welcome these positive policy decisions, which raise the status of languages spoken in our communities and recognise their value as part of a reformed curriculum which equips all of our young people for life in a global society.

Speak to the Future will be addressing the future direction for language learning in its third symposium taking place at the Language Show on Friday 14th October 2016 at the Exhibition Centre at London Olympia. Please reserve the date in your diaries and join us.

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