Dated: 12 March 2007
Responding to the final report of Lord Dearing’s review of languages, the Institute of Directors (IoD) supported its focus on fostering an enthusiasm for language learning early in pupils’ schooling, but warned about the possible impact of compulsion.
Miles Templeman, Director General of the IoD, said:
“Languages have an important place in our education system and Lord Dearing’s reports rightly identify primary schools as the central focal point. In addition, more flexible, innovative and engaging courses could also improve language take-up at higher levels. For example, the IoD particularly welcomes the report’s support for our suggestion of a GCSE in several languages in a business context.
“That said, we are concerned at the possible impact of the report’s central recommendation: that languages be made compulsory for 7-14 year olds. The obvious risk is a diversion of focus away from the key goal of driving up literacy and numeracy standards.
“In implementing this recommendation, the Government should consider relaxing any requirement for mandatory language learning for those primary pupils struggling with the ‘3Rs’. Only 60% of 11 year olds achieved the expected standard for their age in last year’s reading, writing and maths tests. It is vital that improvements in these basic skills are not imperilled.”