Talent for Italian is underused

2nd February 1996 at 00:00
Brendan O'Malley reports on a TESCentre for Information on Language Teaching and Research survey which shows there are formidable obstacles hindering the spread of languages other than French in schools.

Last year only an estimated 5,935 pupils were entered for GCSE Italian, compared with 357,000 for French, 132,000 for German, and 42,000 for Spanish.

Yet nationally there are more than 1,140 teachers in schools who are qualified to degree level and trained to teach Italian but do not teach the subject, The TESCILT survey projects.

If every teacher whose Italian is unused took just 10 pupils each to GCSE, the number of entries for the subject would virtually treble.

At John Ogilvie High School, in Hamilton, Strathclyde, there are two language teachers whose Italian skills have been put on hold. The school once offered Italian as an option but interest faded. With the local primary project concentrating on Spanish, this has become the dominant language as pupils have to follow the first foreign language they learned at primary school.

That may be no bad thing because there are also a projected 1,200 teachers who are qualified in Spanish but are not teaching it.

Anna Bartrum, a senior lecturer responsible for the training of student Italian teachers at the University College of St Martin, Lancaster, says a major obstacle schools face in introducing the language is the entrenched views of senior school managers and parents.

As a department head at St Paul's Catholic School in Milton Keynes, she brought in Italian as a joint first foreign language. "If your management isn't supportive, it worries about the cost and the problem of finding teachers, " she says. "You have to fight your corner."

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now