Stefania Caddick-Adams is a secondary school languages teacher and primary languages trainer based in Oxfrodshire.
Encouraging and enabling classroom teachers to take the up the baton and teach languages to their classes has been four years of blood, sweat and tears. And I do sympathise with these first class pedagogical practitioners, their reluctance. I know how I would feel if someone told me I’d have to teach “A” level Maths, and that pretty much explains that rabbit in the headlights stare, the precursor to the recurring dream where you turn up for an exam you have forgotten to study for.
That is how lots of primary teachers felt when the last government introduced the idea of delivering a language curriculum, propelled out of their comfort zone and impelled into a nightmare scenario for many, that one where their poor pronunciation and subject knowledge fraudulence will be found out – by the children. They felt unskilled, overwhelmed and pushed around. Again.
Many saw this as “just another initiative”, and it is sad to say, but it seems they were right, with the announcement earlier this month that Mr Gove has dismissed the Rose report completely. The most irritating thing is that he has not explained why, nor has he sought to inform us what he will be doing, nor do we know who is advising him, nor are we given a time frame to expect the results of his findings.
“One of the biggest tragedies in state education over the last ten years has been this huge drop in French and German, Italian and Spanish”.
He also says:
“Most parents would rather their children had a traditional education, with children sitting in rows, learning the kings and queens of England, the great works of literature, proper mental arithmetic, algebra by the age of 11, modern foreign languages. That’s the best training of the mind and that’s how children will be able to compete.”
What an untenable juxtaposition this is with his sweeping dismissal, then, of the Rose review and all that that means for languages in the primary curriculum.