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SIG business sub group

Author: Susan Langlands, Scottish Government and Fhiona Fisher, SCILT

The big messages of Language Learning in Scotland: A 1+2 approach are really about the kind of children and young people we are developing in our schools; the skills, attitudes and attributes we want them to possess and the kind of country and society in which we want them to grow up. 1+2 is much more than a set of milestones and expectations, just as language skills are much more than simply the ability to speak a language. For Scottish society to become truly inclusive and cohesive we need to develop culturally sensitive, tolerant citizens characterised by an openness to others, respect for our similarities and acceptance of our differences.

This school session 2015-16 marks the halfway stage in our journey towards full implementation of the 1+2 approach to language learning. While schools are busy planning and delivering real developments in what children experience in schools, the 1+2 Strategic Implementation Group (SIG) continues to meet to consider how best at a national level to create and maintain the conditions in which every child can learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue. This needs to become an expected, normal part of school education.

These important changes in education provision relate directly to what young people can expect and hope for in the world of employment, and how Scotland as a country wants to grow. To compete internationally, Scottish businesses need creative, flexible and adaptable employees with heightened literacy and communication skills. Employers thus have a strong interest in how these skills are developed in schools, specifically through the 1+2 policy.

Recognising this, a new sub group has been established within the SIG which brings together representatives from higher education, business, employers, Scottish Government, Developing the Young Workforce and SCILT. The group has two main aims. Firstly, it intends to develop increasingly strong links between HE, schools and employers with a specific focus on the skills children and young people develop by learning languages. Secondly, it seeks to help employers understand the benefits of having a workforce equipped with language skills and to cultivate a loud and clear employers’ voice that acts as a powerful advocate for language learning.

All the members of the group are resolute in their determination to champion languages and the enhanced flexibility, adaptability and inter-personal skills they bring to the workforce. If a business truly wants to internationalise its ethos, then English is not enough. Any form of export, customers in other countries, providing services beyond Scotland or indeed employing people from elsewhere – all these things require the ability to communicate and forge relationships effectively.

For 1+2 to be a success, we have to keep our eyes on the bigger picture and build the expectation that these skills are needed; they are enriching, they open doors, they support opportunities. Language skills are at the heart of building not just a wealthier, but a fairer Scotland in which all languages and cultures are celebrated; a successful Scotland to which all its citizens can contribute fully.

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