There is currently no specific policy on languages in England. Since 2010 Ministers have expressed an overall commitment to the importance of languages, but actual policy statements are confined to the frameworks set out in the National Curriculum. This states that a foreign language will be taught to all pupils in Key Stages 2 and 3 (ages 7-14), although in the primary sector (7-11) this may be a classical language. There are no prescribed languages, but the range is limited by the number of languages available for examination at 16+ and 19+. Following a consultation in 2016 these do include a number of minority or ‘community’ languages.
The National Curriculum includes Programmes of Study for both Key Stages which set out the purpose of language study, the aims, attainment targets and subject content. New subject content for languages was also developed for the current GCSE and Advanced examinations.
The National Curriculum was published in 2014 and implemented from September 2016. It followed a consultation on the curriculum from 5-16, and the publication in December 2011 of an Expert Panel report – The Framework for the National Curriculum, which also included proposals for languages in Key Stage 4 (post 14) which were not implemented.
The “English Bacc”.
The government is committed to increasing the number of pupils studying languages post 14. and in 2011 an additional reporting measure was introduced – the Ebacc. This records 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. The aim is to ‘dramatically strengthen the position of core academic subjects’, including Languages. The government carried out a public consultation in 2016 on implementing a target of 90% of students achieving the Ebacc and Ministers have repeatedly expressed their ambition to implement this target.