This interim report provides an update to Ministers on the work achieved by, and through, the Languages Strategic Implementation Group (SIG) in its first year, and sets out the main developments for the year ahead.
Strategic Implementation Group
The SIG was established in May 2013 to develop an engagement strategy, oversee and facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of the Languages Working Group. To date it has met four times and, through sound partnership working, we have achieved much in this first year.
There is a perception amongst many Scots (and people from other Anglophone countries) that knowledge of another language is not essential, since English is spoken and understood all over the world. In order to change this mindset, it is necessary to articulate clearly the benefits of language learning. Languages are an essential skillset to equip our young people with the skills and competencies needed in the new Europe and the 21st century global marketplace. The SIG aims to achieve this, inter alia, through our various networks and websites. The SIG is also working hard to raise the profile of the 1 + 2 approach, promoting better understanding of the policy and best practice. Members have given practical advice on the delivery of the recommendations in order to support local authorities and teachers.
SIG members have delivered presentations at the Scottish Learning Festival, the Scottish Association of Language Teachers (SALT) conference and the British Council Languages conference in 2013. We have responded to a range of requests for advice and input at authority level. We have also engaged with parents in various ways, including at a National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) 1 + 2 focus group meeting in May 2014, and work is ongoing to complete a Scotland's National Centre for Languages (SCILT) parent leaflet to complement the parent section of the SCILT website. We have met representatives from the Higher Education sector several times to discuss the development of the experience of language learning for students. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has taken a paper to every Education, Children and Young People's Executive Group meeting and will update members at meetings which take place four times a year.
National Language Conference
The SIG hosted a well-attended National Language Conference on 14 November 2013 which focused on the practicalities and implementation of 1 + 2. Delegates also heard about progress and initial findings of the pilot programme and the event was the catalyst for local authorities to move forward with their implementation.
The overall evaluation of the pilot programme indicates interim progress in line with the original aims of the 10 pilot projects. Education Scotland found that in almost all of the primary projects, the aim was to introduce children to a new language. Promising progress has been identified in all cases, particularly in listening and talking. The introduction of ongoing assessment of the four skills of listening, talking, reading and writing is a key recommendation for their continuing development of language learning. The three secondary pilot schools focused on ways of introducing a second additional language.
The new Languages for Life and Work Award has proved a popular way of expanding provision during the broad general education and beyond. An evaluation report on each of the 10 pilots, as well as a summary report, are on the Education Scotland and SCILT websites.
Education Scotland has set up a Short Life Working Group to develop a progressive but flexible framework. The guidelines for Primary 1 (P1) were complete in December 2013 and the framework for P1 to P7 will be published online by the end of June 2014. The guidelines and framework will provide the outline for progression in skills, knowledge about language and vocabulary. Sound files will be provided.
In October 2013, Education Scotland requested that all local authorities complete a proforma to provide information on language learning in their schools. This audit gave an initial picture of languages provision across Scotland. At that time, all local authorities were considering the recommendations of the '1 + 2 report' and almost all said their strategy was 'in hand'. In a very small number of primary schools, an additional language at P6 and P7 was not being delivered due to a lack of trained staff. As expected, the range of provision other than at P6 and P7 was variable but a good number of schools were already providing some language learning before that stage. Due to the well-publicised requirement for language learning from P1, there had been less emphasis on secondary schools. In six of the local authorities that responded fully, the entitlement to an additional language throughout the broad general education to Secondary 3 (S3) was not yet being met in all schools.
Comprehensive advice on the key elements of a local authority 1 + 2 strategy was provided at a joint event hosted by the Scottish Government and Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) on 28 March. Education Scotland have now issued an advice paper to support this. Following this the Scottish Government has asked all Local Authorities to provide their strategies by the end of August 2014.
The Government is committed to the long-term implementation of this policy and intends, subject to future spending review decisions, to continue to provide developmental funding similar to the current levels. To date the Government has provided Local Authorities with £4 million funding in 2013 and 2014, and £5 million in 2014 and 2015, and is fully committed to seeing implementation by 2020. For this reason we are very pleased that COSLA have set in motion a modelling exercise to cost the total implementation of 1 + 2 to 2020. We hope this exercise will be complete by December 2014.
Support for teachers and local authorities
Education Scotland has produced advice on the recommendations of the 1 + 2 approach for their Area Lead Officers and a separate advice note for HM Inspectors. This advice has ensured that the messages of 1 + 2 are recognised consistently. Education Scotland and SCILT offer support to all local authorities. This year Education Scotland has supported a significant number of education authorities specifically on 1 + 2 with visits, advice and presentations.
Education Scotland held the first 1 + 2 Development Officer half-day conference on 23 May which was well-received, and feedback indicates that audiences have found them reassuring and informative.
To improve the knowledge and understanding of 1 + 2, Education Scotland and SCILT have collaborated on a 1 + 2 FAQs pageon the SCILT website, and SCILT have also produced a 1 + 2 newsletter which is a digital newsletter circulated to key contacts in local authorities and providing a roundup of 1 + 2 work at national level. This is designed to be a helpful timesaving tool as it allows local authorities to add local information and distribute to their own networks.
SCILT hosted four 1 + 2 Regional Learning Events to showcase the work of pilot schools and provide a forum for professional discussion.
Conclusion: the year ahead
In the year ahead we will further promote the need to develop the nation's language capability to create a more successful Scotland, with opportunities for all to flourish through increasing sustainable growth.
We will also highlight that it is not about necessarily reaching a certain level or a qualification: there is immense value in having some language skills and, crucially, an open disposition towards using them in practice and developing them more as and when opportunities arise in life and work.
Our work this year has been informed by both the pilot evaluations and the audit exercise. Next year, we will continue to monitor progress, provide strategic advice and gather evidence.
Local authorities are making progress in taking the 1 + 2 policy forward and their strategy groups are making important decisions as to the languages to be studied, on a cluster basis. Certain local authorities will need more support and guidance than others and we will seek to provide assistance as necessary. Many schools are already experimenting with the introduction of a language below P6 and P7 and with ways of introducing the third language (L3).
However, for the policy to be rolled out fully, comprehensive and strategic training for primary practitioners must be made widely available. A good start will be achieved with a 'Train the Trainers event' in July with a second event planned for October.
In addition, in the coming year we will also, among other things:
- develop further interactive resources and support sharing of resources between local authorities
- offer additional support for schools introducing L3, including case studies
- provide support and advice to schools developing opportunities for language study in the senior phase, including case studies
- support enhanced training provision within both initial teacher education and the secondary sector
- work to build links with business and the world of work
We will encourage a greater awareness of the need for enhanced language learning to create a broad expectation of this among learners, parents and carers as well as educators. To this end we will support languages development in Scotland and look for opportunities to further raise awareness of 1 + 2 and the value of language learning.
This year we have put in place the building blocks for full implementation of 1 + 2. The pilot projects have raised the profile of the report and of language learning, and local authorities are increasingly conscious of the implications of the report and of their role in delivering these. They are now taking steps to address this. In the coming year, informed by the local authority strategies and the COSLA costing exercise, the pace will quicken and we hope to set realistic and meaningful targets and milestones in our quest to create the conditions to enable all young people to learn two additional languages by 2020.
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The Scottish Government
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