The conclusions of the survey of language learning in UK schools published by the BBC on February 27 2019 emphasise the importance of the work done by the Association for Language Learning (ALL) both in speaking up for languages and their importance to our national life, and in supporting the work of our inspirational and hard working language teachers across the UK.
ALL warmly welcomes the pilot scheme of language mentoring in Sheffield, funded by the Department for Education. This will build on the success of the MFL Mentoring Cymru programme, which has been running in Wales since 2015. The Mentoring Cymru programme is aimed at increasing the take up and attainment of languages at secondary schools across Wales and is part of the Welsh Government’s five-year Global Futures strategy. Results so far are very encouraging, with some schools being able to run language GCSE classes for the first time in several years.
Such proven initiatives are all the more important in the context of the picture painted in the BBC survey, which highlights once again the continuing decline in numbers taking languages to GCSE, A level and onto university. The BBC report points out that languages are seen as a ‘high risk’ subject by both pupils and schools “as many believe it is harder to get a good grade in a language”. The Association for Language Learning together with a number of other professional bodies worked closely with Ofqual on exploring the severe grading issues in the last few years. In summer 2017, Ofqual adjusted the top grades at A-level slightly. Ofqual is about to start a review into grading of GCSE languages and ALL will be pressing for action to remedy this fundamental unfairness to pupils and teachers in the grading of GCSE languages. We invite ALL members to submit evidence to us to inform our discussions with Ofqual and other bodies.