HC Deb 20 January 2004 vol 416 cc1128-9W
Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what progress is being made on the production of specialised resources for the teaching of modern languages in primary schools; [148377]

(2) what percentage of teaching time he aims to allocate to foreign languages in primary schools by 2010; [148378]

(3) if he will make a statement on the progress since November 2002 of Government plans to upgrade foreign languages in primary schools. [148379]

Mr. Stephen Twigg

There has been considerable progress on the development of language learning in primary schools since November 2002, underpinned by the launch in December 2002 of the Department's National Languages Strategy for England. Implementation of the Strategy is being driven by Dr. Lid King, the National Director for Languages.

The Strategy recognises the importance of developing a workforce and resources to support successful implementation of primary language learning, and much of our work to date has focused on these areas. In developing a school workforce, we are building up a cadre of specialist teachers and non-teacher specialists to support primary language learning. 499 places have been filled this year for Primary Initial Teacher Training with a specialism in French, German or Spanish. 119 primary MFL Advanced Skills Teachers are now in place, and we have allocated 50 primary MFL places to the Graduate Teacher Programme. We are working with the TTA to pilot a CPD course for existing primary teachers to develop language skills and MFL pedagogy. The TTA has also begun the process of approving training providers for Higher Level Teaching Assistants, and we are working with the British Council to extend the foreign language assistants programme into primary schools.

On resources, we are working with a range of partners to develop a framework for language learning at Key Stage 2, to be published in autumn 2005. It is intended as a shared national reference point for all those involved in teaching modern foreign languages in primary schools. It will offer guidance on key considerations such as pedagogy, cross-curricular links, curriculum delivery models and transition at age 11. The framework will supplement existing non-statutory guidance for modern foreign languages at Key Stage 2, which contains a programme of study and attainment targets for listening, speaking, reading and writing.

In addition, we are developing schemes of work with QCA in Spanish and German to mirror those that already exist in French. The Spanish scheme of work will also be developed into a digital online resource. The Department has also funded the establishment of NACELL—the National Advisory Centre on Early Language Learning—which provides access to appropriate information, including resources and has an extensively used website for language teachers.

In addition to workforce and resource development, in September 2003 the Department launched MFL pathfinders in 19 LEAs to explore how language learning can best be introduced at Key Stage 2. The findings from those pathfinders will provide practical guidance and help to inform teachers, schools and LEAs of good practice. We are also developing the National Recognition Scheme, as outlined in the Strategy, and are currently trialling the scheme in a range of settings, including primary schools.

On time allocation, the Department does not specify how much time should be allocated to deliver modern foreign languages in primary schools, or indeed to any other subject. It is for head teachers to decide how they introduce language learning at Key Stage 2 and the amount and frequency of language teaching time. The Department will, however, be issuing guidance and good practice to help inform such decisions.