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Primary Languages Survey 2010

Make Primary Language Learning Compulsory

Press release, 1 October 2010

Calls for language learning to be made compulsory in primary schools have been made by over three quarters of local authority language advisors who took part in a survey by CILT, the National Centre for Languages.

The survey revealed that languages are now being taught in all primary schools in England on a large scale. All local authority advisers who responded reported that a least four out of five schools offer a language and over 83% of them want languages to have statutory status in the curriculum to ensure that progress made to date can be continued.   However, there are real concerns that this will not be possible because of uncertainties over funding and the status of languages in the curriculum.

“There is an overwhelming demand for clear policy direction on languages to ensure that language teaching continues in primary schools. We have come a long way in the past five years but we need a long term commitment.  The worry among local authority advisers is that without it the momentum will be lost”, said Therese Comfort, Head of Primary Languages at CILT.

Plans for languages to become a statutory requirement in England’s primary schools from September 2011 are currently being reviewed as part of the new government’s overall reform of the National Curriculum and funding has only been guaranteed until March 2011.

The survey revealed that this decision has not yet had a direct impact on provision but all of the advisers taking part in the survey reported that they foresaw difficulties ahead.

“It is a matter for real concern that without a long term vision for the future some schools are beginning to hesitate over their commitment to language teaching.  Our survey shows how successful we’ve been in spreading language learning to local authority schools, the next step is to ensure quality and consistency which will underpin transition to secondary school”, added Ms. Comfort.

The enthusiasm and commitment to maintaining language provision in primary schools – with 1 in 3 local authorities teaching languages in all their schools -  is clear with reports that a number of Head Teachers have stated that they will continue no matter what, as they can see the value of languages at primary.  In the survey advisers also stressed the need for continuity and coherence from primary to secondary and the need for a learning continuum in languages through to secondary school.

Primary Languages Survey 2010 - full report

Press release (Word, 241KB)

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