We must also wonder yet again what sort of message we are giving to our young people and our international friends about Britain in the global workplace.
GCSE and the national curriculum, in conjunction with the enthusiasm and hard work of foreign language teachers, have begun to make real progress in terms of destroying our poor reputation as language learners. How can this latest move be anything but detrimental?
How ironic also that two of the most recent Department for Education and Employment's publications - Towards a national skills agenda and Labour market and skill trends - referred to the crucial importance, in the face of increased competition, of oral and written communication.
On page 15 of the latter document we read: "The internationalisation of markets also means that competence in foreign languages is becoming important for field sales staff. There is evidence of marketing staff working in international teams, meaning both language skills and cross-cultural knowledge are of increasing importance." Who is not talking to whom at the DFEE?
David Mee General inspector Modern foreign languages Wirral LEA