Languages: Curriculum

Department for Education written question – answered on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of William Wragg William Wragg Conservative, Hazel Grove

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment has he made of the implications for the national curriculum of the findings of the British Council’s 2018 Language Trends Survey.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department has noted the British Council Language Trends 2018 Survey and the concerns it raises about participation in languages study. Through a number of initiatives, the Department is ensuring that all pupils have the opportunity to study a language.

English Baccalaureate (EBacc) performance measures have been introduced to halt the decline in the number of pupils taking GCSEs in languages and the reformed national curriculum makes it compulsory for pupils in maintained schools to be taught a foreign language in Key Stage 2.

The Department offers financial incentives for languages teaching, including scholarships in modern foreign languages (MFL) worth £28,000, and tax-free bursaries, typically worth up to £26,000, for trainees MFL initial teacher training.

Schools are being supported to increase languages take up through the Mandarin Excellence Programme and through a £4.8 million MFL pedagogy pilot programme which aims to improve uptake and attainment in languages at Key Stages 3 and 4, particularly for disadvantaged pupils.

A pilot project for MFL undergraduate mentoring has been launched for secondary school pupils to increase take up in the subject, specifically targeting areas of high disadvantage to extend access to languages for all pupils.

The Department has recently published a leaflet for parents, which explains why studying a language, as part of the EBacc, will provide their children with an insight into other cultures, opening the door to travel and employment opportunities. This publication can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/english-baccalaureate-ebacc.

Since 2010, the proportion of pupils taking a language GCSE has increased from 40 per cent to 46 per cent.

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