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Two implications of the election result for MFL

So the nation has voted and totally confounded the pollsters. Like many teachers I am bitterly disappointed and can foresee some messy political times ahead for Cameron over Scotland and Europe, not to mention how this result might affect the lives of the poorest in society. It is easy to predict some serious blood-letting within the Tory party over the EU referendum in 2017. That will be little consolation to Labour and the Lib Dems.

For our field of languages there are two implications which occur to me.

The A-level reforms, involving decoupling of AS levels and the production of new, ALCAB-based, specifications will proceed as planned. Tristram Hunt would have put them on hold. This is very bad news. We can expect AS level numbers to fall significantly and the decline in the take-up of languages at A-level to continue. This may be exacerbated by austerity cuts to come in schools which will mean A-level courses in minority subjects will be squeezed even more. The exam boards will have been doing their best to make the new DfE/ALCAB subject content palatable, but decoupling will have the most damaging effect. How much further can A-level languages fall?

Less publicised has been the low key Conservative manifesto pledge to get secondary schools to ensure all students do Ebacc subjects. One wonders how this marries with the current supply of language teachers. If fulfilled, this would mean a rise in the number of pupils doing GCSE languages, with a possible knock-on effect at A-level and beyond. I doubt very much if this will make much difference. I would have thought that the majority of any additional linguists at KS4 would be those reluctant ones who find languages hard and who would be unlikely to continue to a higher level.

The DfE hope that curriculum reforms and compulsory primary languages will raise standards and take-up. Is this wishful thinking? Probably.


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