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Only one in five UK state schools makes its pupils learn a language


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Only one in five state schools makes its pupils learn a language


Last updated at 09:46am on 1st November 2006

primary_228x149.jpgDamage is being done to Britain's future economic competitiveness




Four out of five state schools no longer require GCSE pupils to learn a foreign language, a damning new survey reveals.

Experts warned that the figures, published today in the National Centre for Languages (CiLT) annual Language Trends Survey, showed damage was being done to Britain's future economic competitiveness.

The survey, regarded as the most authoritative picture of language learning, showed that private schools - which educate only seven per cent of all children - are increasingly responsible for providing the vast majority of future graduates in French, Spanish and particularly German.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: "It's foolish to rely on other people speaking our language.

"We will miss out on trade to those bidders who can talk the language of the country with whom they are trying to do business."

But CiLT's survey showed that even private schools are beginning to allow teenagers to abandon languages in hopes of getting better grades in other subjects.

CiLT warns: "The overall picture is of seriously decreasing numbers." It adds: "A system which prides itself on the transformative power of education is not delivering the same benefits to state pupils that parents who pay for private education expect."

CiLT director Isabella Moore said: "There are advantages and there are skills which should not be the preserve of an elite."

The key findings of CiLT's survey, based on responses from 1,086 state and private schools are:

• Only 18 per cent of state schools still require all GCSE pupils to study at least one language , down from 25 per cent last year and 57 per cent in 2003.

• In six out of 10 comprehensives, less than 50 per cent of GCSE pupils study a foreign language.

• Even in the private sector, numbers are falling - only 56 per of private schools force all their GCSE pupils to study a foreign language, down sharply from 78 per cent last year.

A spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry said: "This is a deeply worrying trend. In an increasingly global economy, language skills are important assets for young people entering the world of work."

This year, the then schools minister, Jacqui Smith, wrote to secondary headteachers ordering them to set targets of between 50 and 90 per cent of GCSE pupils doing a language qualification.

But the survey showed that while 73 per cent of schools polled knew about this requirement, just 17 per cent of those where languages are not compulsory said they had complied.

David Levin, headteacher of leading private school City of London, said: "The void is inevitably filled by independent schools such as mine where modern languages and sciences are heavily stressed and emphasised."

Education Secretary Alan Johnson has moved to draw the sting from today's gloomy figures by announcing a review of the decision to make languages optional at GCSE under Lord Dearing, the architect of the national curriculum and university fees and a tried-and-tested education troubleshooter for successive governments.

Last month Mr Johnson told MPs: "If Lord Dearing says to us this strategy is wrong and we should go into reverse, we will listen to that advice and we will do that."

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Aha! But could they actually be "bovvered" to really take any of it in??:rolleyes:


nope. it's not only their fault though. i sometimes helped a friend's daughter doing her homework and its weird how little kids learn in them schools. and she actually understood things really quick once someone explained it to her.

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