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What now for primary MFL?

Looks like the new government is putting on hold revisions to the primary curriculum. Will there be a continued push with primary languages? It's true that coverage of MFL is still very patchy, although 92% of primary schools are apparently offering something. I've always been on the sceptical side of the primary MFL argument, but if it is eventually decided that primary schools will be able to choose their own curriculum to a greater extent I can easily foresee the MFL strategy collapsing.

If that were the case we would be back to where we were in the 1960's with a minority of more able and socially advantaged children having access to modern language learning after 14 and some limited coverage at primary level. Less able students will still have access at KS3.

Here is what Teachers' TV reported:

"Since December 2002 when the national languages strategy was put in place, language has taken on a new importance in primary schools. 92 per cent of them now teach a modern foreign language. But that could all change depending on new Government policy. The National Centre for Languages (CILT) believes the subject is vital at primary level and the benefits are wide ranging. It would like to see languages become a compulsory part of primary education. "Apart from giving children the opportunity to learn a new language" says Teresa Tinsley from the centre, "the subject can also aid pupils' literacy and development in their own language. In an international world it is also important to open up pupils' eyes to different cultures and for teachers it means an opportunity to link the subject up with others, like history or numeracy".
But the implementation of languages at key stage 1 and 2 is still at an early stage of its development and CILT wants reassurance from the new Department for Education that the momentum created over the last few years will continue.
It especially wants to see the training for teachers continued and more specifically support for linguistic development.
The Department for Education says it hasn't got into the details yet of which subjects are to be made compulsory at primary level. Schools minister Nick Gibb says the Government wants to ensure "a relentless focus on the basics" and give teachers "more flexibility".
But, whether languages are considered by the government to be a core part of the curriculum for years 1 to 6 remains to be seen. There's likely to be an announcement soon, but any decisions made probably won't come into effect until 2012 or later."


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