Curriculum


Curriculum

Russian ambassador confronts Sturgeon over Scottish curriculum

30 August 2017 (The Courier)

Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to the UK, expressed his disappointment to Nicola Sturgeon over the Scottish Qualifications Authority dropping the language from the curriculum.

In a letter, which has been published under freedom of information laws, Mr Yakovenko called on Ms Sturgeon to intervene.

The correspondence also revealed the FM has declined invitations to official Russian functions in Edinburgh and London on four occasions since June 2016.

Mr Yakovenko, who was previously deputy minister of foreign affairs, said: “The cancellation of the exams seriously affected the resources available for cultural and business links, for people-to-people contacts and the personal development of individuals.”

He added: “I believe there may be ways for the Scottish Government to have the above decisions revisited, and I would hugely appreciate your attention to the matter.”

However, he did highlight Dundee Russian School for its valuable work in teaching children and adults the language, which is the fifth most prevalent in the world.

The First Minster left it to her deputy John Swinney to reply, which he did about two months after the original letter was sent in December 2016.

Mr Swinney, who is also Education Secretary, said: “The decision to remove courses was made entirely on practical grounds, reflecting difficulties in maintaining standards in subjects experiencing consistently low uptake.”

He added: “I would assure you that SQA’s decision bore no reflection on the relative merit or value of Russian language or literature – which are considerable.”

Mr Swinney said Scots could learn the language through modern languages for work purposes units and the Language for Life and Work Award.

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Rescuing and reviving the curriculum is not enough to restore modern foreign languages to their rightful position

28 January 2017 (TES)

It's not enough to grandstand the fact that languages have been introduced at primary school and leave it at that, writes this veteran journalist.

I can remember my first German lesson at school only too clearly.

The first two phrases that I was taught were "Mutti bleibt zu hause" and "Vater geht zu arbeit". For the uninitiated, that means "mother stays at home" and "father goes to work". 

Apart from giving a rather forlorn view of the state of society in the early 1960's, it also shows how mind-bogglingly dreary were the German textbooks of the day.

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The curriculum vs employability skills?

16 March 2016 (SecEd)

The curriculum is hampering schools’ efforts to improve and develop the employability skills of their young people, argues Phil Crompton.

Everyone spends at least 11 years at school. That’s a long time. So surely it is not unreasonable to expect young people emerging from the education system to be ready to make a positive contribution to the working world?

I am not talking about examination results. They are just one indicator of someone’s capacity to be a great employee, or even an employer. I am talking about the skills that actually matter in the workplace.

Shouldn’t pupils in our schools be given the chance to develop skills in communicating with confidence, working in teams, bouncing back from failure, being polite, and organising themselves. And once they have developed the skills fully shouldn’t some recognition be available? Employers certainly think so. And so do I.

[..] At my three schools, we recognise the existing curriculum isn’t going away and that exams have to be passed, but we are working with local businesses to breathe life into some of the duller parts of the curriculum and to equip our pupils for working life.

Science classes are advising a housing company on how to promote their new eco-homes, German and French students are producing foreign language leaflets for visitors to a local hotel, computing students have worked with an IT firm to create mobile phone apps, A level students have been practising Spanish conversation at a city tapas bar, and a professional actress has worked with a drama class.

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‘Sign language should be added to the national curriculum’

27 February 2016 (Eastern Daily Press)

Applies to England

We have seen a little surge in the past 20 years of hearing people wanting to learn British Sign Language, either to head down in the professional career track of deaf relations such as interpreting or communication support workers or just for casual use to communicate with a deaf friend.

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The Language Dimension in all Subjects – A handbook for curriculum development and teacher training

16 October 2015 (ECML/Council of Europe)

Mastery of the language of schooling is essential for developing in learners those skills that are necessary for school success and for critical thinking. It is fundamental for participation in democratic societies, for social inclusion and cohesion.

This Handbook is a valuable resource for education authorities and practitioners in Council of Europe member states. It will help them to reflect on their policy and practice in language education, and support them in developing responses to the current challenges of education systems.

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Real Madrid and Lidl: recommended topics for A-level languages

18 December 2014 (TES)

(Applies to England) Real Madrid, French rap music and Germany’s Aldi and Lidl supermarkets are among the topics that university academics have recommended for study in new “academically rigorous” foreign language AS- and A-levels unveiled today.  The subject areas are listed in suggestions for individual project work from the A-level content advisory board (Alcab), made up of university academics and other subject experts.

[..]The recommendations from universities come as the government has published new “academically rigorous” compulsory subject content for reformed AS- and A-levels in languages, maths and geography this morning (see related item below).

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Related Links

GCE AS and A Level Modern Foreign Languages guidance (Department for Education, 18 December 2014)

Pupils 'should learn about Gareth Bale in A-level Spanish'(The Telegraph, 18 December 2014)

The modern languages grading issue is only the tip of the iceberg

15 October 2013 (The Guardian)

Lenient grading at GCSE, curriculum context and teaching methodologies are all also to blame for the decline of language students, says Dr Robert Vanderplank.

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The importance of languages in the curriculum

30 September 2013 (Great Education Debate)

Teaching foreign languages to English speaking children in a world where the international lingua franca is English is a proposition that deserves some exploration and justification. In non-English speaking countries, learning English is more akin to studying a key skill or a core subject, such as mathematics. There is no reason even to hesitate over its importance or centrality, just as no one in medieval Europe would have questioned the importance of Latin in the curriculum of the educated.
However, for us, it is different. How does one justify the inclusion of a (randomly or historically chosen) language in the curriculum for our secondary or primary schools?

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The national curriculum in England - Framework Document

8 July 2013 (Department for Education)

Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to
other cultures. A high quality languages education should foster pupils’ curiosity and
deepen their understanding of the world. The teaching should enable pupils to express
their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its
speakers, both in speech and in writing. It should also provide opportunities for them to
communicate for practical purposes, learn new ways of thinking and read great literature
in the original language. Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning
further languages, equipping pupils to study and work in other countries.

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Improving language opportunities for Scotland’s young people

27 November 2012 (Engage for Education)

Sarah Breslin, Director of SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages at the University of Strathclyde, talks about the importance of the Scottish Government’s 1+2 languages policy.

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