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You are here  : HOME > Policy > Basic Documentation on English and UK Policy

Basic Documentation on English and UK Policy


There is currently no overall policy on languages in England. However the coalition Government which took office on May 11 2010 is reviewing the National Curriculum in England, and the expectation is that languages will have a significant place in the new curriculum, at least for children aged 9-16.

Following the publication of a White paper on Education a full consultation on the curriculum from 5-16 was launched. In December 2011 the Expert Panel published its report – The Framework for the National Curriculum - including proposals for languages in Key Stages 2, 3,and 4. Although the original timetable for the review has not been fully implemented, the assumption is that the new curriculum will be in place in September 2014.


The following key documents can therefore be regarded as of historical importance until such time as the Coalition Government decides on a policy for languages

The National Languages Strategy for England

Languages for All; Languages for Life A Strategy for EnglandPublished in December 2002, Languages for All; Languages for Life A Strategy for England, set out the Government's 8 year plan to transform the nation's language capability. The core objectives were to improve learning and teaching, introduce a national recognition scheme and increase the numbers of language learners. The cornerstone of the strategy was the introduction of an entitlement for all pupils ages 7-11 to learn a language by 2010.


The Languages Review

The Languages ReviewIn the autumn of 2006, Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and Skills asked Lord Dearing to work with Lid King, National Director for Languages in order to review the Government's language policy. In particular he was asked to consider the reduction in numbers taking languages to GCSE and to make proposals to increase take up among this age group (14-16). In the event the Review was a comprehensive consultation and analysis of languages education and made a broad set of proposals for reform, including a key proposal to make primary languages statutory. The review was welcomed by the Government and its main proposals were being implemented until 2011. Associated with the review there is also a consultation document which can be accessed here.




The International Strategy

International StrategyIn 2004 the then DfES (now DFE) published an International Strategy, which also had the support of the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its main goals are -

  1. equipping children, young people and adults for life in a global society and work in a global economy
  2. engaging with international partners to achieve (shared) goals
  3. maximising the continuation of our education and training sector and university research

There have also been some developments of the international strategy since 2004.

There are important synergies between the International Strategy and The National Language Strategies.


There have also been important policy developments outside England.

Citizens of a Multilingual World (Scotland)

England was not the first part of the UK to develop a languages strategy. In Scotland in the year 2000 a Ministerial Action Group produced a comprehensive report and set of proposals for responding to the challenges and opportunities of Multilingualism. Although not all of the proposals were implemented by the Scottish Government, this set an agenda which has been regularly updated.

The new "Curriculum for Excellence" introduced in 2010 gives an important role to languages and describes the "outcomes" expected at different stages.

Languages Count (Wales)

Languages CountIn April 2002 the Welsh Assembly Government published a languages strategy for Wales - Languages Count. This wide reaching document set out a vision for the importance of languages if Wales is to play its part on the world stage. It aimed in particular to improve both take-up and standards post 14, to increase recognition by schools, pupils, parents and employers of the importance of foreign language skills and to ensure that language learning was linked to the learning of English and Welsh and increased intercultural understanding among learners. In 2009 Languages Count was updated in a new set of proposals and consultation - Making languages count. An action plan for languages in secondary schools Making Languages Count was published in 2010.

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