Languages Strategic Implementation Group minutes: March 2021

Minutes from the 22nd meeting of the group, held on 16 March 2021.

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
  • Anne Keenan (AK), EIS
  • Fhiona Mackay (FM), SCILT
  • Graham Hutton (GH), School Leaders Scotland
  • Inge Birnie (IB), SCDE Modern Languages Group
  • Joe Carson (JC), UCMLS
  • JohnPaul Cassidy (JPC), Education Scotland
  • Louise Whyte (LW), SALT
  • Matthew Sweeney (MS), COSLA
  • Robert Quinn (RQ), SQA
  • Sarah Stevenson (SS), GTCS
  • Sylvia Georgin (SG), LANGS

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

LG welcomed everyone to the meeting, which was held via MS Teams. Apologies were received from Suzanne Marshall. AK and MS were welcomed to the group as new members.

Approval of minutes from previous meeting

The minutes of the 21st meeting of the group, held on 21 January 2020, were approved as accurate.

Matters arising from minutes and actions outstanding

University and school engagement on languages (UCMLS)

JC advised he had contacted colleagues to find out what level of engagement took place in normal times, and was awaiting their response.

Thematic review of the 1+2 languages policy

The Chairs had requested that a thematic review of the 1+2 policy take place, but no progress has been made further to a letter sent to Education Scotland in early 2020. No feedback has been received regarding this request. A thematic review would require intelligence from school inspections, which first need to resume.


Turing Scheme

Liz Neil from British Council Scotland gave an overview of the Turing Scheme:

  • Turing is an outward only mobility programme for learners to go abroad to partner institutions. There is currently no funding available for staff development or strategic partnerships
  • travel abroad can be for a period of weeks to months (up to six months for older pupils). There are no restrictions on destinations, although government travel advice will apply
  • the scheme is open to both state and independent schools, which can make applications individually or as part of a consortium bid. Schools will require an established partner abroad
  • there are no nationality restrictions for learners, and additional funding is available for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds or with disabilities (e.g. provision of additional staff)
  • UK Government is promoting the scheme on the basis of widening participation / reducing the attainment gap
  • the scheme is currently open to applications until 7 May, with travel taking place during the next academic year (2021-22)
  • UK Government has currently only made a one-year funding commitment to the scheme
  • while the scheme is not a replacement for Erasmus+, it is still a great opportunity for language immersion for school pupils
  • British Council is running training sessions on how to apply for funding and webinars will be made available online

Scottish Government

LG welcomed the additional £2.4 m funding for local authorities to support 1+2 implementation that was announced in February. HC confirmed that the terms of the funding mean any unspent funding from 2020-21 can be placed into reserves for use  on 1+2 activities during 2021-22.

LG Advised that ADES and Education Scotland had written to Directors of Education asking them to focus on three key areas during 2021-22: provide targeted support to schools not yet delivering the full 1+2 commitment; pooling resources with other local authorities; and availing themselves of national support through SCILT, Education Scotland and others.

Priorities for the group in 2021-22

The Chairs asked the group to consider how it can use its expertise to oversee the final stage of implementation of the 1+2 policy and ensure its long term sustainability, as continued government funding cannot be guaranteed

The Chairs highlighted four possible priorities for the next year with the view of keeping actions focussed as this may be the last year of implementation:

  • ensuring sustainability for teacher training beyond 2022
  • provision of development for secondary practitioners
  • the place of language learning in society
  • recommendations of the forthcoming OECD report

Members provided contributions to a Padlet board (see page 5); highlights from the discussion included:

  • AK: The OECD report could be particularly relevant for 1+2 in terms of attainment, overcrowding of curriculum etc. Questions of how 1+2 will fit into the forthcoming recovery curriculum and streamlining of priorities, and how LA funding will be spent on the ground. Need to be realistic as to what teachers and pupils are facing during the next year
  • SS: a recent GTCS survey highlighted how the pandemic has improved online accessibility of language training for teachers. Question of how training materials can be pulled into an accessible online resource to remove the old barriers of the availability and location of learning
  • JC: Can explore whether universities can provide online summer workshops for primary teachers, who can no longer access Erasmus+ funding to go abroad. Similar workshops already exist for secondary teachers
  • SG: The pandemic led Northern Alliance to collaborate on producing a single set of teacher resources for all LAs in the RIC. Question of how the digital revolution over past year can be used for sustainability
  • LG: Important for Education Scotland to understand which schools / clusters / LAs / RICs need further support, and how this can be provided. Regular intelligence from school inspections is currently unavailable due to the pandemic
  • JPC: Need to be careful not to let a narrowing of priorities leading to languages getting crowded out of the curriculum. Risk that this could be sustained and become a new norm
  • RQ: Despite challenges, SQA had a sold out webinar on new languages awards, showing that practitioners are still thinking about moving forward / provision etc
  • GH: Would be good to get more specialists into primary schools
  • LW: teachers have responsibility to deliver positive narrative on language learning, and SALT can explore how to support this at its next conference

LG advised that the chairs will review the discussion and Padlet contributions to consider definitive actions for the group to take forward, which will be issued over the next month.


  • Chairs to develop priority actions for the group to take forward in 2021-22

1+2 Survey 2020 and 2021

LG advised that the annual 1+2 survey of local authorities did not go ahead last year due to the pandemic. A survey for 2020-21 is planned to be issued in April, with LAs having 6-7 weeks to respond. An abbreviated set of questionnaires has been developed this year, in recognition of the pressures local authorities and schools are under dealing with the impact of the pandemic. The Chairs will be writing to Directors of Education again in advance of the survey to advise them and provide background information.


  • Chairs to write to Directors of Education regarding the 1+2 survey for 2020-21

Any other business

  • FM advised that SCILT will prepare a report on Languages Week Scotland to update SIG members of progress. A three-year strategic plan is being developed for taking the event forward in future
  • RQ advised that Modern Languages for Life and Work Awards for SCQF levels 5 and 6 have been developed. The Awards are now available at levels 3- 6 across ten languages: Cantonese, French, Gaelic (Learners), German, Italian, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Urdu
  • SS advised that Pauline Stephen has taken over as Chief Executive of GTCS

Date and location of next meeting

A date for the next meeting was not set, as LG recognised that the group may wish to meet sooner than the usual schedule depending on the findings of the OECD report. Members views will be sought in due course.

Summary of actions


  • Chairs to develop priority actions for the group to take forward in 2021-22. Responsible: Chairs. Due date: April 2021
  • Chairs to write to Directors of Education regarding the 1+2 survey for 2020-21. Responsible: Chairs. Due date: April 2021


  • UCMLS to investigate current engagement and outreach between schools, local authorities and universities, and to share this with SIG members in a written report. Responsible: Joe Carson. Due date: N/A. Progress status: Awaiting response from university colleagues regarding normal level of school / university engagement
  • Chairs to request a thematic review of the 1+2 languages policy. Responsible: Chairs. Due date: N/A. Progress status: Work has not progressed due to Covid-19 pandemic


  • Secretariat to consider communication to schools regarding Erasmus+ funding. Responsible: Secretariat. Due date. May 2020. Progress status: UK has now left EU and exited Erasmus+ programme
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