Language policy & practice in the UK
Language policy & practice in the UK
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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVXyCYFbsto&feature=youtu.be
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:
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
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.
LINK DELETED: http://ofqual.gov.uk/news/ofqual-sets-out-plans-to-drive-qualification-improvement/
LINK DELETED: http://ofqual.gov.uk/files/2013-08-09-corporate-plan-2013-16.pdf
A breakdown of the latest results revealed a big increase in the numbers taking maths and science subjects. The take-up of languages on the other hand, continues to decline. Although Spanish increased by 4.1 per cent, entries for French and German declined by 9.9 per cent and 11.1 per cent respectively.
This year science accounted 17.8 per cent of all subject entries – compared with 17 per cent last year. In maths and further maths, the figure went up from 11.5 per cent to 12 per cent.
The Telegraph and the Independent both led with articles on the disappointing take-up of languages:
Check out the latest news on multilingualism in urban spaces on the LUCIDE website www.urbanlanguages.eu and sign up to the ebulletin or get involved in our workshops and seminars.
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