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Last Updated: Monday, 12 March 2007, 15:20 GMT
Schools to get 50m language help
primary school French lesson
The review of language teaching in England by Lord Dearing's team has recommended making it compulsory in primary schools.

How is this going to work in practice?

Part of the government's strategy, in making languages optional after 14, was to introduce an "entitlement" in primary schools - with a view to all children having this by 2010.

So that process was ongoing already, and Dearing found that 70% of primary schools were either teaching languages or had plans to do so, rising to probably three quarters this year.

Almost all of them are offering French.

Given that background, his review team felt able to recommend that languages should become part of the statutory curriculum for Key Stage 2 (ages seven to 11).

But they said they would "advise against any one tightly prescribed approach to teaching, as has sometimes happened in the past".

Capacity

Instead the key was building the teaching capability through training and access to support networks and "a range of resources".

"In this respect we fully support the proposal of the Training and Development Agency (TDA) to develop a 9-14 languages teacher training course."

The assistant director of initial teacher training at the TDA, Jacquie Nunn, said in response to the report: "We will be working closely with schools and teacher training providers to build the capacity both in initial teacher training and in training and development for existing teachers."

The government is committing an annual budget of 50m, which is what Dearing said would be the total cost of the report's proposals - the bulk of it being for support for teaching.

But the National Union of Teachers warned that introducing a new requirement in primary schools could not be carried out "on the cheap".

Overload

"Alongside training, there will be a need for a fully expert teacher to be available to every primary school," said general secretary Steve Sinnott.

"The primary curriculum itself remains hopelessly overloaded.

"With a limited number of teachers covering all subjects, small primary schools will have their own special problems in introducing a new subject."

He called for a government audit of the additional staffing and training needs of all primary schools.

The Dearing review also advocated work to be done with countries' embassies to broaden the number of languages on offer.

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Sarah Teather said the government was right that the optimum time to introduce pupils to foreign languages was when they were young.

"But currently there simply aren't enough modern language graduates going into teaching," she said.

"Even with any new recruitment drive, it will take years to get the necessary workforce into our classrooms."




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SEE ALSO
Seven-year-olds to take languages
12 Mar 07 |  Education
Schools 'ignored' languages edict
01 Nov 06 |  Education
Rethink on school language study
14 Sep 06 |  Education
Schools to get language targets
15 Dec 05 |  Education
School language decline continues
03 Nov 05 |  Education
Boys unwilling to learn languages
19 Oct 05 |  Education

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