The European Commission’s Erasmus programme of funding

The European Commission’s Erasmus programme of funding for cultural and work exchange between institutions and individuals has been relaunched with an increase of over 40% in its budget. It is called Erasmus+

Institutions & individuals can get funding for work, study or training abroad, and the money is available now.

Any individual or institution interested in study, training, work experience or volunteering abroad; or in organising a transnational partnership for their education, training or youth organisation, may be eligible for funding from Erasmus+.

Erasmus+ is the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. Funding has been increased by 40% and we encourage everyone in the UK who is eligible to apply.

The UK national agency for Erasmus+ is the British Council and they have a specially-developed web portal for anyone in the UK who is interested in accessing this funding. Interested parties should:

  • Visit the Erasmus+ UK website: The website includes information, advice, webinars and guidance.
  • It is also possible to follow Erasmus+ UK for the latest news via Twitter: #erasmusplusuk

For information about Erasmus+ from the European Commission itself, visit

Speak to the Future Campaign for languages

A new campaign, called Speak to the Future, has been launched with the support of over 30 organisations. The campaign calls for urgent action on policy to safeguard and revitalise language learning across all phases of education in order to boost educational and career opportunities for young people and our ability to compete in the global economy. Campaigners have united to send a powerful public message highlighting the vital national importance of foreign language capacity in today’s global world.

Baroness Jean Coussins, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on modern languages, welcomed the campaign and said: ‘A national languages recovery programme is needed to improve the quality of our children’s education, their future employment prospects and the influence of the UK on the international stage. ‘

The campaign has five key aims, designed to create a coherent approach to language learning across all phases of education:

  1. Every language valued as an asset
  2. A coherent experience of languages for all children in primary school
  3. A basic working knowledge of at least two languages including English for every child leaving
  4. secondary school
  5. Every graduate qualified in a second language
  6. An increase in the number of highly qualified linguists

Further details are available from

Dr Lid King in debate with Baroness Blackstone

Dr Lid King, Director of the Languages Company, was invited to attend the ‘No Island Is An Island’ Conference, hosted by the European Commission in London on 18 October 2013.

He and Baroness Blackstone, member of the House of Lords (UK upper chamber of Parliament) debated the merits of language learning.

The debate can be viewed at

Language Festival 2013 throughout November

The British Academy and the Guardian are holding a national Language Festival throughout November 2013 to celebrate the UK’s diverse cultural richness and raise the profile of language learning among learners of all ages.

The Language Festival website, hosted by the Guardian, provides a platform for schools, higher education institutions, policy makers and businesses from across the UK to debate and explore all the benefits of language learning.

It also includes useful resources, such as a series of downloadable packs for primary and secondary schools, and businesses, to provide ideas for organising events to celebrate languages.

The British Academy will also be hosting a series of public events.

Everyone is invited to get involved, and join the debate on Twitter using #languagesdebate

New national curriculum for England announced

On 11 September 2013 the Secretary of State for Education published the new national curriculum framework following a series of public consultations. The majority of the new national curriculum will come into force from September 2014.

The big news is that languages will be compulsory in primary schools for the first time at Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11). Contrary to original proposals, put out for consultation earlier in the year, for an approved list of 7 languages (which included Latin and Ancient Greek), primary schools will now be free to teach any language at KS2.

Languages at secondary school remain compulsory only to KS3 (ages 11-14). The new KS3 curriculum refers to grammar, written texts (including literature and poetry) and translation.

The curriculum will be implemented in all maintained state schools in England (i.e. not private schools or state-funded academies or free schools, all of which have freedoms to devise their own curricula). In practice most primary schools are maintained schools whereas an increasingly large proportion of secondary schools are not.

The new national curriculum framework is available at:

British Council International Education Week (IEW), 18 – 24 November 2013

The British Council is promoting the importance of building an international dimension into the education of young people in the UK at primary and secondary levels. The IEW section on the British Council website has lots of information on how to get involved and how to promote language learning. For details see:

Let’s get talking! 1000 Words for all Speak to the Future 1000 Words Campaign

Not everyone will become a fluent linguist, but the aspiration for everyone to have 1000 Words in another language is realistic and achievable. The Speak to the Future Campaign is leading the way with the new 1000 Words Challenge. The key message is: Our society and our economic prospects will be vastly transformed for the better if everyone has 1000 Words of another language! For more information go to:

The case for language learning – Guardian series

Join the national debate on the importance of language learning and help us put languages back on the agenda.’ The Guardian, supported by the British Academy, is running a series on the importance of languages in our society. Join the language festival on the campaign website:

2013 GCSE Results

Languages show a dramatic rise in number of entries

The Joint Council for Qualifications released the following statement today (22/08/13):

Following years of decline, this year’s results show a dramatic rise in the number of entries for GCSE languages. Entries for traditional languages (French, German, Spanish) are up 16.9 per cent compared with last year (French up 15.5 per cent; German up 9.4 per cent; Spanish up 25.8 per cent). Of the three, only Spanish increased last year. French remains the most popular language taken by students with 177,288 entries.

Other modern languages rose by 5.1 per cent compared with a rise of 13.7 per cent in 2012. The most popular other modern languages are: Italian 5,136 entries; Urdu 4,519 entries; Polish 3,933 entries; Arabic 3,607 entries; and Chinese 3,042 entries.

You can read the full JCQ press release here

Ofqual to investigate variations in the number of A* and A grades

The Telegraph reports:

Ofqual is to launch an investigation into “variations” in the number of A* and A grades awarded in traditional sixth-form exams, it was revealed.

In a report, the regular said the proportion of top marks differed significantly between subjects each year.

It raised particularly concerns over modern foreign languages such as French, German and Spanish, with warnings that examiners award “relatively few” elite A*s compared with other disciplines.

Over the next year, the watchdog will evaluate the way subjects are graded “so that standards are as comparable and consistent as possible”, it emerged.

It is believed that the proportion of good marks will fail to rise for the second year running following a Government crackdown on “grade inflation”. In 2012, some 26.6 per cent of papers were awarded at least an A compared with 27 per cent a year earlier.

But Ofqual suggested that students’ chances of securing top grades depended on their choice of subject.

According to figures, 28.6 per cent of further maths papers were graded A* last year, while the number stood at 17.4 per cent for maths, 13.1 per cent for art and design, 10.7 per cent in the classics and 9.9 per cent in physics.

However, the proportion was as low as 2.4 per cent in ICT, 3.3 per cent in business studies, 3.7 per cent in drama, 6.3 per cent in geography and 6.8 per cent in English.

Only 6.8 per cent of French exams and 7.9 per cent of German papers gained A* despite the fact that languages are normally the preserve of the brightest pupils.

The Government has already outlined plans to overhaul A-levels with tougher questions and a greater focus on end-of-course exams.

Ofqual said it did not plan to “recalibrate” A-level standards when new courses are introduced in subjects such as English, science, maths, history and geography in 2015.

But Ofqual added: “There are two features of performance standards at present that we plan to address.

“First, relatively few A* grades are awarded in modern foreign languages when compared with other subjects with a high proportion of A grades. Secondly, there are variations in the proportion of A* to A grades awarded at A level each year in subjects.

“We plan to evaluate both of these features and to make improvements so that standards are as comparable and consistent as possible.”

The corporate plan – outlining Ofqual’s priorities over the next three years – also suggested that pupils were sitting too many exams, saying that it wanted to develop approaches to education “that do not assume that everything that should be taught should be assessed and contribute to the student’s grade for the subject”.

It also announced plans for a national sampling test for 16-year-olds that will be used to benchmark the difficulty level of future GCSE exams.