Languages Strategic Implementation Group minutes: April 2022

Minutes from the 24th meeting of the group, held on 21 April 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Laurence Findlay (Chair) (LF), ADES
  • Louise Glen (Chair) (LG), Education Scotland
  • Helene Cornu (Secretariat) (HC), Scottish Government
  • Ross Cumming (Secretariat) (RC), Scottish Government
  • Adam Sutcliffe (AS), EIS
  • Edward Welch (EW), UCMLS
  • Fhiona Mackay (FM), SCILT
  • Francisco Valdera-Gil (FV), SCDE Modern Languages Group
  • Graham Hutton (GH), School Leaders Scotland
  • Inge Birnie (IB), SCDE Modern Languages Group
  • Matthew Sweeney (MS), COSLA
  • Robert Quinn (RQ), SQA
  • Sarah Stevenson (SS), GTCS
  • Sylvia Georgin (SG), LANGS

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

LF welcomed everyone to the meeting, held via MS Teams. AS was introduced as the new representative for EIS. Apologies were received from JohnPaul Cassidy, Louise Whyte, Owen Griffiths and Suzanne Marshall.

Approval of minutes from previous meeting

The minutes of the 23rd meeting of the group, held on 24 August 2021, were approved as accurate.

Matters arising from minutes and actions outstanding

LF explained that the outstanding actions relating to SIG working groups, would be covered under item 6 of the agenda.


Updates received from members, collated in paper. Members encouraged to follow up with colleagues if any queries.

Scottish Government

  • following changes made after the 2021 Scottish parliamentary election, the SIG is no longer required to provide an annual report to a committee
  • continued funding for local authorities of £1.2 m to support 1+2 implementation during 2022-23 has been approved
  • the Turing Scheme is being funded for a further three years, and is now being administered by Capita. Work remains on-going to launch a Scottish exchange programme, however it is anticipated the first mobility will not take place until 2024 at the earliest

Survey 2021 results

HC gave an update on the findings of the 2021 local authority survey of 1+2 implementation, with the full report due to be published on 28 April.

  • L2 being delivered by 98% of primary schools, with full provision dropping from 88% to 69%. Could be due to pressures on schools during the pandemic and / or changes to survey methodology. L3 provision has increased from 48% to 68%
  • L2 being delivered by 100% of secondary schools, with full provision at 70% (unchanged from 2019 survey). L3 provision has increased slightly from 83% to 87.5%
  • most taught L2 and L3 are French and Spanish respectively. Notable increase in schools teaching BSL and Scots as an L3, particularly in the primary sector
  • language learning opportunities being provided by 91% of special schools. Focus is more on alternative language / communication systems, e.g. BSL, Makaton, PECS, and Signalong
  • barriers to implementation remain similar to those reported in previous surveys, e.g. timetabling; teacher confidence; staffing issues etc
  • collaborative / partnership working still cited as keys to success. Widespread adoption of online platforms during the pandemic seen as helping to improve perception of language learning
  • policy success dependent on ensuring that progress so far is consolidated, and outstanding barriers addressed. Expect pace of change to slow and more relevant to conduct surveys on a biennial basis going forward

Main points from the discussion that followed included:

  • first cohort (2013) that would have seen benefit from P1 won’t have reached senior phase yet. Will hopefully see a change in uptake in coming years, however pupils could reach a good level of aptitude but still decide not to continue learning into senior phase. Research may be needed to better capture children’s experiences with languages, and capture the level reached at the end of the BGE
  • issue of 30% of secondary schools unable to delivered L2 entitlement has been long standing issue. May require a more in depth look at whether timetabling issues are leading to pupils dropping languages – is it being limited by availability, quality of teaching, competing subjects (e.g. being overshadowed by sciences). It may also be useful to measure the impact of schools proposing seven subjects instead of six on the number of pupils taking languages into Senior Phase
  • success of Scots as an L3 may be an example of successful IDL with Scots added to Scottish studies


  • LG and GH to discuss with ADES and SLS regarding issues of timetabling in secondary schools
  • FV and IB to investigate possibility of SCDE conducting research into pupils experience with language learning

Progress reports from the sub-groups

LF and LG gave updates on the SIG working groups that were formed following the review carried out by Shona Hugh and the short-life working group last year.

Modern Review group

Unfortunately this group is on hiatus as any work on a modern review will have to wait until the conclusion of the Education Scotland / SQA reform process.

ITE / Professional Learning group

The group has met twice so far, and discussed the following:

  • SCDE will be launching their Plurilingual Classrooms in Action resource for ITE students on 25 April
  • believe Skills Development Scotland have a key role in encouraging students to enter ITE, and will be writing to them to open a dialogue. The group also discussed what advice career advisers give (encouraging students who want to become primary teachers to take languages), and how much observation of language teaching takes place as part of the placement experience
  • LF and LG are committed to progressing discussions with SG on continued funding and support for local authorities and Regional Improvement Collaboratives
  • it has been decided to postpone the action to explore the use of a national e-learning platform as a collaborative resource for practitioners until the ES/SQA reform process concludes

BGE / Curriculum group

This group has met once so far, and discussed the following:

  • agreed SIG should work with partners on a communications campaign to refresh and reinforce the messaging around the BGE language entitlements
  • LF and LG to discuss with SG whether two key parts of the 1+2 policy in secondary schools should be made more flexible. These are the requirements for the L2 to continue to the end of S3, and that the L2 be the same as the one taught at primary school
  • LF and LG to liaise with HMI senior inspectors on how HMI can provide stringer messaging on language entitlements being met when inspecting primary schools
  • agreed SIG should lend support to the nationwide rollout of a mentoring programme being developed by SCILT, LANGS and UCMLS
  • that SIG members give a consistent measure that cluster schools need to strengthen links and for secondary languages teachers to work closely with primary schools, when dealing with local authority networks

The BGE group’s proposal to give more flexibility in secondary school’s L2 approach led to some discussion, with concerns raised that a loosening of the requirements could lead to a loss of continuity of learning. It could also have unintended consequences, e.g. jeopardising the current senior phase uptake, where Scotland does well compared to other UK nations, which see languages as more of a specialist subject with a resulting lower uptake.

Any other business

Members raised no items for AOB.

Date of next meeting

The next full meeting will take place in late August / early September (date to be confirmed). 

Summary of actions


  • LF and GH to discuss with ADES and SLS regarding issues of timetabling in secondary schools. Responsible: ADES / SLS. Due date: Aug 2022
  • FV and IB to investigate possibility of SCDE conducting research into pupils experience with language learning. Responsible: SCDE. Due date: Aug 2022


  • UCMLS to provide SIG with report on current engagement / outreach between schools, local authorities and universities. Responsible: Edward Welch. Due date: Nov 2021. Progress status: Unknown


  • LF to keep group updated regarding working group on evaluation of 1+2 implementation. Responsible: Chairs. Due date: Nov 2021. Progress status: SIG sub-groups now formed to take forward actions identified by short-life working group
  • Secretariat to organise one-hour SIG session for end of September. Responsible: Secretariat. Due date: Sep 2021. Progress status: Meeting took place on 4 Nov 2021
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