Gove's about-turn on languages is too late

14th October 2011 at 01:00

It is with mixed feelings that I read "About-turn leaves primary languages lost in translation" (7 October).

I am a primary teacher who is a non-specialist but has tried really hard to embed language teaching within a first school (three to nine-year-olds) with a lot of success. I introduced Spanish in my current school. We have Spanish events throughout the year, including Spanish bingo, and very strong links with a school in Spain (via etwinning.org.uk, which I can highly recommend). I have also led Spanish classes for parents and staff.

The change in government and change in thinking has resulted in catastrophic chaos. Many schools I approached to offer free language support declined as they were "too busy" or languages were not a "priority". The local authority primary language adviser has lost her job and the state of primary languages within my area has little leadership and no direction.

Michael Gove's about-turn adds to this confusion. Yes, I am pleased that language teaching is back on the agenda, but why the one-year wait after an eight-year preparation period? Do they not realise that waiting a year may put primary languages back still further? We need action, direction and the help of those with the knowledge, enthusiasm and skills which can be shared. They might have already lost one - me!

Gavin Johnston, First school teacher, Northumberland.

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