Languages Strategic Implementation Group minutes: November 2016

Minutes for the tenth meeting of the language learning Strategic Implementation Group (SIG) that took place on 17 November 2016.

Attendees and apologies


  • Louise Glen – Senior Education Officer, Education Scotland (ES)
  • Bruce Robertson – Association of Directors of Education (ADES); Co-Chair
  • Gillian Campbell-Thow – Scottish Association of Language Teaching (SALT)
  • Adam Sutcliffe – Educational Institute Scotland (EIS)
  • Jack Simpson – Heads of School
  • Laurence Findlay – ADES Heads of Service
  • Graham Hutton – School Leaders Scotland (SLS)
  • Saddah Aziz – National Parent Forum Scotland NPFS (and personal assistant Sohit Dykes)
  • Fhiona Mackay – Scotland’s National Centre for Languages (SCILT)
  • Do Coyle – Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE)
  • Marion Spöring – Chair University of Modern Languages Scotland (UCMLS)
  • Andrew Bruce – SG, Deputy Director Learning Directorate
  • Sue Langlands – SG, Languages Team
  • Toria Fraser – SG, Languages Team (Secretariat)

Chair of Meeting

  • Bruce Robertson

Items and actions

1. Welcome and apologies

Bruce Robertson welcomed all members of the Group to the 10th Meeting of the SIG Education Group. Saddah Aziz was welcomed to the meeting as the new representative of NPFS.

Andrew Bruce was also welcomed to the meeting. Apologies were received from Lauren Bruce of COSLA and Ellen Doherty of General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) and Sharon McLellan of Associate of Heads and Deputes Scotland (AHDS).

In introduction it was noted that after the usual budgetary process, priority would be given to ensure an early funding decision for 2017-18.

Action: SG to seek an early decision on funding for 2017-18

2. Approval of previous minutes

The May minutes were approved and are available on the SG website.

3. Matters arising from Minutes and Actions outstanding

It was noted that the following actions were completed: the announcement of funding for 2016-17; the introduction of a number of new members to strengthen the membership, the circulation to members of the description of the SCILT and ES responsibilities. The action for SG to develop a draft implementation and communication plan is discussed at point 4 below.

Action: The document setting out ES and SCILT responsibilities will also be shared with all the Development Officers at the Development Officer Conference on 29 November.

The meeting discussed the outstanding action to scope out the existing language offer within the Initial Teacher Education (ITE).

Action: SCILT and SCDE are to gather information on the Initial Teacher Education offer to present to the next meeting.

4. Implementation Plan

The Implementation Plan (the Plan) developed by SG in consultation with members was circulated. Members welcomed the Plan overall as useful, and committed to using it within their own contexts. Additions to the Plan were discussed with a focus on ensuring sustainable implementation. It was agreed there was a need to include stronger overarching actions. The meeting acknowledged the importance of strong messaging to ensure the significance of language learning is understood in schools, by parents and employers and wider society. It was also agreed that this Plan would be the overarching one and that SG would maintain a detailed record of members’ actions, timescales, milestones and progress achieved.

Action: Members’ changes requested in writing by 25 November. These will cover issues raised in meeting such as rationale for language learning as an employability skill; strengthened language with a greater emphasis on collaboration and column showing key SIG member responsible.

Action: The chairs and SG will finalise and include key SIG member responsible with a view to agreeing it by end December

5. Work priorities

a. Primary L3
The meeting considered the current situation regarding L3 provision and the value of ensuring a diverse language offer nationally. ES explained that there are two ways to provide L3 on a planned basis: one option allows a variety of language tasters in P5-P7 or the more rigorous option where there is provision of one language from P5 to the end of P7. The second option enables young people to reach second level in their language learning.

The meeting heard that many learning communities have opted for the more rigorous option. The members acknowledged that while this may seem surprising it may be because schools wish to build on existing capacity or it may result from a lack of confidence in introducing new languages (because it would require provision of resource and a sustainable solution).

It was acknowledged that L3 was not fully implemented and was a work in progress. All agreed that to achieve greater diversity within the local authority (LA) planning for implementation, messaging should encourage creative approaches to support planning for L3: what do you need to do to prepare, how do you practice the L3 and using such approaches to empower young people to follow languages they are interested in. The meeting heard of emerging evidence of good practice where associated school groups of teachers are working strategically on certain areas including the choice of the second and third language, teacher training needs, progression and transition.

Action; all members to use these messages in support of LA planning for L3 implementation.

b. Benchmarks
The meeting heard that ES benchmarking exercise has now been completed and that it will be published in December 2016. The next step that ES will take with partners involves the development of exemplification of what language learning looks like in P1 to P4.

Action: Education Scotland to work with partners to develop exemplification of language learning from primary one to primary four.

c. Progress in secondary schools
The meeting heard that there is a need to ensure that a clear message is reaching all young people in secondary school of the value of retaining language learning as a useful skill for employability, and which will provide opportunities beyond school. Discussion also considered the need to find and promote more secondary case studies which show language learning at school provides a great experience for young people. Two examples are provided below:

Action: SCILT, ES and SALT to work to develop further case studies to bring to the next meeting.

d. Alternatives to current provision
The meeting discussed the need to encourage schools to adopt alternative forms of provision are included below. They include:

The meeting endorsed the use of technology (both as a resource of language content and as a means of delivering training of teachers and teaching young people). The meeting also acknowledged that issues of lack of demand in senior phase are in part due to timetabling but also because the young people need a greater understanding of the value of language skills to their career.

Action: members to work with SCILT and with Skill Development Scotland through SIG engagement to develop messages for career guidance.

Action: members to share messages from this Group with their stakeholder networks relating to: the importance of language learning, the enjoyment of language learning and the alternative forms of provision.

6. Any other business

Continued priority to language learning

The meeting discussed the need to ensure that the 1+2 languages commitment continues to be prioritised, even if there are other high profile issues which catch media attention. All agreed that a Ministerial priority to address the attainment gap in no way downgrades the importance of the key areas of education including languages and STEM.

The meeting agreed that it was exceptionally important to maintain a strong and consistent message about the importance of developing long term sustainable plans to ensure the 1+2 languages policy is achieved by 2021 and to use the Implementation Plan to do so by strengthening the local learning networks and ensuring consistency in standards.

Ongoing updates from local authorities

The meeting heard from the SG secretariat that a request to all LAs for updates on progress of implementation of 1+2 will issue in the new year.

Action: announce LA update at the Development Officer Conference and at Curriculum Assessment and Qualification ADES Group on 9 December.

7. Date of next meeting

The next meeting is due to be held on 23 February 2017 in Strathclyde University.

Curriculum Unit, December 2016.


Email: Central Enquiries Unit

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
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