Primary training falling short

26th February 2010 at 00:00

The East of Scotland European Consortium makes a valid argument with respect to the guidelines for initial teacher education being breached in relation to modern languages training for primary teachers, as reported in last week's TESS ("Lack of modern languages in primary schools will hit economy", February 19).

This same point was raised directly with the Education Secretary, Michael Russell, by Ken Macintosh MSP at the Scottish Parliament's education committee meeting on February 10. While Michael Russell failed to give an appropriate response, we now have a government spokesman describing the suggestion of a regulatory breach as a "red herring" and saying that appropriate courses had been set up in August.

If appropriate courses have been set up, then I am sure the Government will happily give a full explanation as to how all primary teacher trainees will be provided with the skills to deliver the 24 modern languages learning outcomes and experiences when there is no compulsory languages training in these courses.

Under the current structure, there is nothing to stop a trainee entering primary teacher training with no prior modern languages qualification, and nothing to stop them from completing their studies having had no additional training. It is hard to see how this can be deemed as "appropriate", given that ITE is mandated to ensure all new teachers can carry out these tasks.

While we hear a lot about teacher training standards not being what they could be, I did not realise that they had reached such a low level where a vacuous training system such as this could be deemed appropriate.

If the Government's education department is serious in its repeated claims to see "modern languages as key to creating a more successful Scotland by equipping our young people with the skills needed in 21st-century society", then perhaps it should focus first on equipping teachers with these skills.

Jonathan Ward, Briarwell Road, Milngavie.

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