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Primaries will get bulk of pound;53m for languages

Schools will receive pound;53 million to aid and promote language learning, with the bulk of the cash going to primaries.

Of this sum, pound;2m will be spent on a PR campaign aimed at making languages "cool" to study.

All primaries will have to teach a foreign language to children aged seven and above by 2010. They will receive pound;35m, pound;5m more than this year, to fund investment in specialist teachers, training and teaching resources. The money will also be used to finance joint working between schools to support the transition between primary and secondary level.

Currently, around 70 per cent of primaries teach languages, but only a third offer languages to all their junior children.

Lord Dearing's report on language learning, published earlier this year, recommended that more than pound;50m a year would be needed to revitalise languages.

The move to make languages optional at 14 has led to a drastic slump in the number taking them - from 80 per cent to 51 per cent. This year fewer than half of pupils took a language GCSE.

There will be pound;3m for the first year of a three-year programme to create an online language resource for secondary pupils; more than pound;3m over three years for partnership working between schools and higher education institutions and pound;1m for secondary schools to set up networks and share best practice.

The rest of the money will be spent on smaller projects recommended in the review such as international visits for pupils.

Jim Knight, schools minister, said: "We know 'one size fits all' compulsory French or German GCSE study simply does not motivate pupils - a view taken strongly by Lord Dearing, teachers, employers and trade unions.

"By continuing to invest in more long term solutions, such as better trained teachers and more innovative resources, we will generate enthusiasm and confidence for studying languages in secondary school and beyond - far more effective than simple compulsion."

Isabella Moore, chief executive of CILT said: "Continued funding of languages will support the fantastic progress being made in primary schools across the country and we are hugely pleased that the issue of transition is being addressed."

Helen Myers, president of the Association for Language Learning, said: "It is still important that we put in resources now for students who are currently thinking about taking languages at GCSE, that's why the other elements being funded, as well as primary, are very important."

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