From the Archive - 25.11.1988

16th November 2012 at 00:00

Russian begins to take root in schools

Education secretary Kenneth Baker's recent well-publicised remarks in favour of increased provision of Russian teaching in British schools endorsed the views expressed in the House of Commons Second Report on Soviet Studies.

The opening up of Soviet society under Mikhail Gorbachev has made the Soviet Union one of the most interesting places to visit and to study. It is, moreover, now becoming commonplace for school pupils to have the opportunity to travel to Russia.

The new openness in the USSR coincided with the inclusion of the language as a foundation subject in the UK national curriculum. Russian is likely to be taught as one of the first languages in the curriculum, and letters have gone to Mr Baker and Malcolm Rifkind, secretary of state for Scotland, assuring them of Russian teachers' eagerness to meet the new challenges.

Letters have also been sent to more than 100 local authorities urging them to include Russian in their language diversification plans and informing them of the facilities and staff available. Their replies bear witness to bustling activity in the authorities, some of which have already included Russian in pilot diversification schemes.

There is thus every reason why Russian can and should play a major role in the national curriculum - to confine ourselves to EEC languages would be to ignore political realities. We shall have much to answer for if we rear a generation incapable of speaking to the Russians in their own language.

While Russian may more often than not be taught as a second language, there is no reason at all why it should not also figure as a first. At one time Leith Academy in Edinburgh was virtually the only school in the UK where the language was taught in the first year. Now, however, Russian enjoys parity with other languages at Wolverhampton Girls' High: in September 1988 more than 200 pupils were studying Russian out of a total roll of about 550.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today