Awarding organisation OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations) recently announced plans to reduce its Asset Languages assessment scheme from 25 to only 5 languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin) from 2014. This has in part been as a result of government policy not to recognise Asset Languages as contributing towards the English Baccalaureate and therefore school performance indicators. This decision will leave many languages and language learners without accreditation in the UK.
Asset Languages currently offers accreditation for Cantonese, Cornish, Hindi, Somali, Swedish, Tamil and Yoruba, for which no GCSE examination exists. Even where GCSE exams exist, the GCSE is often designed only for learners who speak the language at home, not for those who have learnt it as a foreign language.
The removal of Asset Languages qualifications in so many languages will set back attempts to encourage the learning of a broader range of world languages such as Arabic and Portuguese which business leaders say are needed to develop British exports to BRIC and other high-growth countries.
The decision also represents a blow to ethnic minority communities who wish to see their children achieve qualifications in their heritage languages, and could be regarded as discriminatory.
Working group leader for our objective 1 Dr Terry Lamb has written to OCR to express concern, and will also be making representations to government. If you believe that rewarding knowledge of a wider range of languages is important for our communities, society and economy, please sign our petition urging OCR to reconsider its plans for Asset Languages, and Government to reconsider its policy towards this accreditation.