Well done to Newham Complementary Schools Partnership, working together to raise the important issue of language learning!
Indeed “together we make a difference”
A really productive meeting at The House of Commons with Mp Lyn Brown – and here’s how they did it.
‘We, as a local group in your constituency, would like to request to please meet you to consult and brief you on language learning and policies in Newham / West Ham and also for the Labour Party 2015 Manifesto & on-going Government policies. Could we come and see you?
At the national level, there has been a serious UK decline of modern foreign language learning and practice since the take-over of the Blair government in 1997. Since then, the take-up of GCSE and A levels for MFL ( modern foreign language) exams have halved during this time. Only 9% of our 15 year olds in the UK have a competence beyond a basic level compared to 42% in 14 other countries. 44 universities have dropped language degrees since 2000. Against this, business and government now all stress their concern and emphasise the importance of reversing this trend in language learning. “The next generation…..should be born global with language skills” says the BCCI. UK private schools realise this where 69% of private schools require studying an MFL until 16 years old; whereas the State system only achieves 16% of students at the same age. For an overview, we attach the recently published Manifesto from the All-Party Parliament Group for Modern Languages, which presents key national dimensions and arguments and a useful consensus of the Group’s Labour, Conservative and Liberal members.
At the local level, here is Newham, we are missing out enormously. Well over half our children speak a second language – 100 languages roughly – but only a very, very small minority formally study their home language at all; and even fewer up to GCSE level. For the top 5 foreign languages spoken in the world – Chinese, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Bengali – Newham has only 1 solitary supplementary school serving these top five (this happens to be Bengali). Yet planning permission has been given for a £1 billion development in Royal Docks to establish a Chinese business district there – but no single Newham Chinese supplementary school exists. Portuguese is one of the major MFLs spoken in Custom House area but cannot be learnt at any school in that ward. Overall, a whole local generation is effectively being held back.