Latest research shows that nearly a quarter of English primary schools have no-one on the teaching staff who is adequately qualified to teach languages at even the most basic level. These teachers have no language-related qualifications higher than GCSE level.
The report stems from research published as part of a study commissioned by the CFBT Education Trust and the British Council. It suggests that, when it comes to languages, English schools are falling behind academically compared to European schools.
From September, all English schools will be expected to offer language lessons to pupils aged between seven and eleven, which has caused some alarm amongst primary teachers. 591 teachers surveyed as part of the yearly Languages Trends Survey reported concerns about these changes and a lack of confidence in being able to adequately teach these new lessons to the standards required. These reforms have been introduced by the government in a bid to “drive a languages revival”.
Teacher Qualifications and Concerns
There are concerns, claims the report, that teachers would be only a little more knowledgeable than their pupils when it comes to languages, and this would clearly negatively affect the standard of teaching. Within the 23% of schools surveyed, half of the teaching staff held only a GCSE language level while 31% had an A-level in their chosen language.
With only 30% of teachers surveyed having a an actual language degree, and fewer still having made use of their language skills since leaving university, it is understandable why many staff feel ill-equipped to manage the challenges being handed to them.
The report also noted that while many European schools are looking to teach their pupils a second foreign language, many primary schools in England are struggling to ensure that their pupils are adequately taught to grasp the basics of one new language.
Additional statistics included in the report showed that while as many as 85% of primary schools supported the changes to drive languages into primary schools, 29% of teachers admitted that they would not be confident teaching children a foreign language.
Supporting the New Curriculum
A spokesman for the Department of Education noted that the reforms were necessary and overdue, as the declining standard in languages has been an ongoing issue for years. The revival is set to tackle these concerns and bring England up to the level of her European counterparts.
He continued, confirming that the government would be releasing £350,000 to support the planned move to compulsory language teaching for pupils aged seven to eleven.