Thursday 19 May 2016


British Council response to commentary (The study of science and foreign languages in primary schools) by Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted's Chief Inspector 

Vicky Gough, Schools Adviser at the British Council, commented:

“Whilst it’s fantastic to see primary schools introducing our youngest learners to the benefits of language learning, it’s clear that languages at this level have not yet reached their full potential. Time pressures, shortages in languages expertise and challenges with transition – as highlighted by Sir Michael Wilshaw in his commentary – mirror some of the findings in this year’s British Council and Education Development Trust ‘Language Trends Survey’ and give us all food for thought on the numerous challenges currently facing language learning in schools.

“That said, it’s important to note that it isn’t all doom and gloom - the Language Trends Survey also highlighted some evidence of increases in resources and staffing for languages at primary school level. This is great progress which should be welcomed and built upon. The reality is that languages are crucial for life and work in an increasingly connected world – let’s do what we can to ensure more of our young people are given the opportunity to acquire these essential skills."

Notes to Editor

The Language Trends Survey 2015/16 found the following regarding primary-level languages:

Almost half of primary schools (42 per cent) have increased the resources available for languages.

All primary schools surveyed now provide language teaching for their pupils.

Just over one third of primary schools indicate that they now have access to specialist language teaching expertise within their school.

That said, the findings also suggest that the quality and consistency of language provision at primary level is not always seen as providing a worthwhile level of knowledge for pupils to apply to their studies in secondary school.

For more information, contact Kristen McNicoll in the British Council press office via or on 0207 389 4967

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