I try not to follow the exam result stories. They’re so depressing, and so predictable. One of this year’s panics is about Languages. Not enough students are studying languages, and as a result we produce far too few expert linguists. Shock, horror.
Fifteen years ago I taught in a Telford comprehensive, where we welcomed some things about the National Curriculum. We liked the commitment that all pupils would study languages up to the age of sixteen. Not many of our pupils were natural lingsuits, and it was hard work to deliver, but worth it for the commitment to a national ideal – awareness of other countries, ability to speak their languages.
But all that got ditched in the league table race. Get as many 5 A-Cs as you can, and we don’t care what they’re in. Canny calculators chopped down language departments, aimed pupils in the direction of courses where grades were easier to obtain, with the very predictable result we’re looking at today.