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Current Policy Developments

This section is devoted to current developments in languages education policy in the UK.

In England previous proposals for a new primary curriculum, including Languages, and for the introduction of a Diploma in Languages and International Communication have been shelved. For more information about the implications and possible outcomes of these decisions see the section on Policy Discussion and debate.

Following the publication of a White Paper on education - "The Importance of Teaching" The Coalition Government launched a review of the National Curriculum (primary and secondary) in November 2010, . The new curriculum will be implemented in full in September 2014. In the meantime the current curriculum remains in force.

Primary languages

Despite the decision not to proceed with the new primary curriculum which would have made languages statutory in Key Stage 2, the new Government has confirmed its commitment to the importance of primary languages. It believes that languages are important for the social and economic future of the country and that they help young people to understand the world and its cultures.

Maintenance of the existing primary curriculum means that

  • The entitlement for all children in Key Stage 2 to learn a language remains in place
  • The Key Stage 2 Frameworkfor languages is still available to be used as a national point of reference
  • OFSTED will continue to report on primary languages
  • Funding to support primary languages in 2011-12 was allocated via the Direct Schools' Grant at two thirds of the amount allocated to LAs in 2010-11. Details of the exact amounts allocated can be found here

The longer term position of primary languages will depend on the review of the National Curriculum, and in particular whether it is decided to make KS2 languages statutory. There is, however, good reason to suppose that Ministers will favour the inclusion of languages in Key Stage 2 as this government statement makes clear. In December 2011 the Expert Panel set out its views in a Framework for the National Curriculum, which proposes that languages should be introduced as statutory in KS2, definitely from the age of 9, but leaving open the question of an earlier start. Further details can be found here.

Secondary (Key Stage 3)

The revised Secondary Curriculum which gives schools greater flexibility and should lead to higher achievement remains in force until the outcome of the proposed review Support for the new curriculum continues to be offered by the subject association ALL through its dedicated website   ( .   The revised Key Stage 3 Framework is still in place.

Secondary (Key Stage 4) AND THE "ENGLISH BAC"

The government is committed to increasing the number of pupils studying languages post 14. According to Secretary of State Michael Gove

I am deeply concerned that fewer and fewer students are studying languages, it not only breeds insularity, it means an integral part of the brain’s learning capacity rusts unused’.
(Westminster Academy , September 2010)

In 2011 therefore the Government introduced an additional reporting measure of how many young people are awarded a suite of GCSEs (A*-C) which include: English, Maths, a Science, a Modern or Ancient language and a humanity.

This is in addition to other performance measures and it should not preclude the study of other GCSEs or of any vocational qualifications that ‘would be of genuine benefit for student's progression to post-16 education and employment'. The aim is to ‘dramatically strengthen the position of core academic subjects', including Languages. Following this the Expert Panel proposed that languages should be reintroduced as a compulsory component of KS4.

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