Language baby falls foul of bath water

30th September 2011 at 01:00

I wholeheartedly endorse the letter from Raymonde Sneddon and Charmian Kenner et al (23 September) about making qualifications available in non-traditional languages. The previous government, through the National Languages Strategy, proposed a national recognition scheme for precisely this purpose, which radically offers the possibility of single- skill assessment in 25 different languages, including Somali.

The scheme allows pupils to be assessed in skills in which they have strengths, and can afford a much more realistic picture of their linguistic aptitudes. It is skill-orientated rather than content-driven, and finally gives us the opportunity to recognise the fact that many of our young people have capabilities in several languages, not in all four skills and not to the same level - what (former School Curriculum and Assessment Authority chair) Ron Dearing referred to as the "spiky profile" of the natural language learner.

Unfortunately, the current administration, with its blind adherence to a one-size-fits-all measurement, risks throwing this valuable baby out with the bath water as it doesn't count in the new tables. The kind of flexibility the good doctors argue for was already in place, and risks becoming another casualty of Michael Gove's lack of vision.

John Connor, Independent consultant, modern foreign languages, Stourport- on-Severn

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