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What the principals say

Sixth-form leaders' reaction to plans to make university entry conditional on a language qualification.

Nick Young, head of Wheatley Park school, a secondary and sixth-form in Oxfordshire, said: " I am in favour of compulsory foreign languages up to 16 but, after that, it becomes a little more difficult. We already have sixth form students taking an extra subject and I think we need time to let that settle in before we go any further. Having said that, I support the idea of compulsory foreign languages at post-16 in principle, if it is funded."

Peter Rushton, principal of Carmel College, St Helens, Merseyside, said: "I highly value language skills. For economic regeneration, individual employability and world competitiveness: they are extremely valuable. There should be lots of incentives to encourage people to continue studying languages but I am hesitant to bring in prescription."

Neil Hopkins, principal of Peter Symonds' College, Winchester, Hampshire, said:

"We have always wanted modern languages for all post-16, delivering it in practice is a different matter.

"We are offering AS-levels in four modern languages but there doesn't seem to be a huge growth in emand for them."

Dr Paul Rispoli, principal, Reigate College, Surrey, said: "As far as I know there is a shortage of modern language teachers so where are these linguists going to come from and who is going to fund them?

"We have been told that Curriculum 2000 is going to be fully-funded but we are still waiting to hear our funding allocation for next year because it appears the Further Education Funding Council underestimated the amount of additional AS-level teaching which would have to take place.

"How is a school with a small sixth form going to cope with all this in addition to the difficulties involved in managing viable class sizes? It sounds like a good idea but I think someone has to consider the repercussions."

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Martin Ward, principal of Wyke Sixth Form College, Hull, said: "In general terms one can only applaud this as we are not nearly good enough at learning a foreign language in this country. However, there would need to be more work done in preparation in the 5-16 curriculum.

"I notice the recomendation to do more modern language teaching in primary schools and this would have more effect than anything done for teenagers over 16."

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