Squeezed by the timetable

23rd January 1998 at 00:00
As Britain assumes the EU presidency, David Henderson investigates language learning in primaries

Several heads have highlighted the problems of a crowded curriculum and the switch to teaching the basics as the balance of the 5-14 curriculum is questioned.

Fred Forrester, deputy general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, says most complaints centre on finding time for languages amid other pressures. "Clearly the level of competence is extremely variable and a lot of teachers do not feel able to do justice to it. A little bit of training does not alter that," Mr Forrester says.

He also pinpoints the problems caused by the parents' charter. Secondaries frequently draw pupils from many non-associated primaries and patterns of language learning vary enormously. "We do get instances of pupils taught German in primary and it is not available in secondary."

He adds: "We are not anywhere near dealing with the problem of giving Scottish children a better facility with languages. The basic motivation is often not there because they are not close to another country where another language is spoken."

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