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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-19597: Gordon Lindhurst (Lothian)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 25 October 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the recent Reform Scotland report, Breaking the languages barrier, which calls for a rethink to the approach to teaching foreign languages, including a greater focus on community languages, such as Chinese and Urdu.

Answered by: John Swinney 2 November 2018

The Scottish Government welcomes Reform Scotland’s "Breaking the Languages Barrier” report. As the report itself notes, the Scottish Government is committed to language learning and the value it brings to both individuals and wider society. We will consider the report’s recommendations carefully as part of our ongoing work with partners to grow language learning at school.

Much of what the report recommends is already part of the Scottish Government’s 1 +2 policy, including our aim to increase language learning at all levels in schools, starting from P1 ,rather than focus solely on qualifications. The 2018 local authority languages survey shows that at least 91% of primary schools in Scotland now provide continuous learning in at least one other language from P1 onwards. and are providing a wide variety of second additional languages from P5 onwards, including Chinese and Urdu.

The report calls for an audit of language teaching capability in primary schools. This was carried out by local authorities in 2013. Since 2013, we have provided local authorities with an additional £27.2million to assist them with the implementation of the 1+2 policy.

The report also calls for a greater focus on community languages, including through the involvement of parents. We encourage schools to involve native speakers in language learning including parents, modern languages assistants and university students. Scotland’s National Centre for Languages actively promotes and supports parental and family engagement in language learning in schools.

Additionally, the Scottish Government provides updates on the implementation of our languages 1+2 policy to the Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, European and External Relations Committee every six months.