Think tank urges government to make KS4 language learning compulsory


All pupils should study a foreign language at key stage 4, according to a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute.

In response to dwindling figures for the uptake of GCSE French and German, the HEPI has also proposed that vocational language qualifications should be included as part of the government’s EBacc performance measure.

The report, titled A Languages Crisis?, suggests that the decision to make language learning non-compulsory has damaged how the subjects are viewed in schools and that the government needs to act to address the issue.

Its author, Oxford Classics undergraduate Megan Bowler, adds that the problems are “compounded by negative perceptions of language GCSEs and A-levels, and the lack of alternative qualifications”.

According to the report, language subjects are facing some complex issues and referring to them as a ‘crisis’ is failing to adequately highlight that.

As a result, the report recommends that “some form of language learning” should be compulsory for all pupils at key stage 4, although it would not necessarily have to be a GCSE.

Vocational options could provide pupils with the necessary language skills to succeed in business, for example, and the report has called for a wider range of accredited courses to be made available.

To make this possible, the report adds that online resources and training for secondary teachers would be required, as would an increase in recruitment of modern foreign language teachers.

Bursaries for language secondary teachers were introduced in 2019 in a bid to encourage more people to consider the subjects as a teaching career.

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