The resumption of the annual survey of local authorities, following the hiatus as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, has presented a refreshed national picture on progress to implement the 1+2 languages policy in schools.
The key finding of the survey is that nearly all primary and secondary schools now deliver language learning from P1 through to the end of the BGE. This lies in sharp contrast to the provision of languages prior to the 2013 introduction of the 1+2 policy, particularly in primary schools, and confirms the progress towards this becoming the norm in schools.
In terms of individual languages, French and Spanish continue to be the most widely taught L2 and L3 respectively in both the primary and secondary sectors. A marked increase in the teaching of BSL and Scots as an L3 in primary schools suggest an increasing appetite for less traditionally taught languages.
Despite the restrictions imposed throughout the pandemic, teacher training and partnership working continued, as local authorities and schools successfully migrated to online modes of delivery. This reinforces the findings of earlier surveys that had highlighted the importance of these approaches toward the delivery of the 1+2 policy.
Overall it is clear that this survey reaffirms the findings and trends established by the preceding 2018-19 survey. Accordingly, we do not intend to continue the current cycle of annual surveys going forward. However, we will still seek to canvass views on specific matters relating to language learning from time to time, and to monitor the delivery of the 1+2 policy on a longer timescale. Appropriate levels of monitoring will be agreed with ADES, COSLA and Education Scotland.
The ambition was for the 1+2 policy to be fully implemented by 2021. However, there has been an understandable loss of momentum due to the impact of the pandemic on schools' priorities. This is particularly as a result of the periods of home learning, and the recovery curriculum's focus on literacy, numeracy, and health & wellbeing.
We recognize the important contribution that financial support for the 1+2 policy has made towards driving forward this momentum over the course of previous years. Accordingly, we are providing a further £1.2 million in funding for language learning to local authorities for 2022-23.
Despite the challenges of the past two years, it is clear that there has been a substantial culture shift in how schools approach language learning since the 1+2 policy was first introduced. Languages are now a normal part of school education throughout the BGE, and children starting school can now look forward to more opportunities to learn languages, and the advantages that brings, than their counterparts of only ten years ago.
The 1+2 policy was never intended to be a short term initiative, but rather a change programme that would deliver a permanent transformation in the way languages are taught in schools. The success of the policy will be dependent on ensuring that the progress made to date is consolidated, and that any outstanding barriers to the policy are fully addressed.
It is also to be expected that there will be variation in methods and standards of how the entitlement to language learning is being delivered. As we move towards a consolidation phase, it may be appropriate to consider these variations and whether establishing broad standards would be appropriate. These would ensure that schools provide equality of opportunity for their pupils, while also respecting local authorities' autonomy and the flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence.
We will provide more details on the next phase of our approach to language learning within the 2022-23 financial year, and will continue to engage and work with key stakeholders and delivery partners to ensure that the aims of the 1+2 policy are fully realised.
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