1+2 languages policy - local authority survey 2021: findings

Findings of a 2021 survey of local authorities on progress to implement the 1+2 languages policy in schools. The key finding is that nearly all primary and secondary schools now deliver language learning from P1 through to the end of the Broad General Education.

1. Introduction

It is more crucial than ever for Scotland's prosperity, and the prospects of its young people, that they are attracted to learning about other cultures and their languages. Becoming confident and competent in communicating with people from around the world will enable them to become global citizens, well-equipped with the skills to thrive in the 21st century.

In 2012 a report prepared for the Scottish Government on modern language education policy for schools found that:

"In the primary sector, despite innovative practice in some schools in beginning language learning early, children are not expected to experience modern language learning until P6. Some primary children do not experience language learning at all, due to staffing or other difficulties. There can be issues at the point of transition from primary to secondary school in terms of continuity of language learning. Some schools still offer learners subject choices in the early part of the secondary school, with the option to give up language learning before the end of their broad general education."[1]

In 2013 the Scottish Government followed the report's recommendations by introducing the 1+2 languages policy in order to improve this situation and achieve the vision outlined above. This policy aims to create the conditions to provide all children and young people with an entitlement to learn two additional languages throughout the Broad General Education (BGE).

A first additional language, or L2, should be taught continuously from P1 through to the end of S3. While there is no hierarchy of languages within the 1+2 policy, an L2 must be a language that can be taught to the level of a National Qualification. It can therefore currently only be one of the following: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Gaelic (Learners), Urdu, Mandarin, or Cantonese.

A second additional language, or L3, should be taught in primary school from P5 at the latest, and in secondary school at some point during the BGE. An L3 can be any language, including British Sign Language (BSL), Latin, Scots and community languages. Pupils may not learn the same language continuously as an L3, and instead may be taught about various languages and cultures.

In order to gauge progress with implementation of the 1+2 policy, it was agreed by the Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES), COSLA, Education Scotland and the Scottish Government that local authorities would provide regular information on language learning in their schools through an annual survey.

This report summarises the findings of the survey covering the 2020-21 academic year. This was the first survey since the 2018-19 one; a survey was planned to cover 2019-20 but had to be cancelled following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

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