Monday, 30 April 2007

Now you see it, now you don't

This is the title of an article published in the Times Educational Supplement last Friday.
The article presents the situation of some subjects, including modern languages, that are disappearing from the curriculum in some schools.
Jim Knight, the school minister revealed that there were 25 schools in England in which no pupil took a GCSE in a modern language last year. We all know that the crisis point reached by languages is now common knowledge as it lead to the publication of Dearing's Language Review last month.
However, what was not publicised as widely, is the fact that last year 68 schools did not do history, 85 did not do geography and 4 schools did not do MFL, history and geography.
Although there is a place for schools offering more vocational courses, is it right to narrow the curriculum to that extent?
Some Heads are unrepentent, justifying their choices with good results and increased student engagement, whereas others are trying to rectify the unbalance by targetting some groups of students for more "academic" subjects and trying to offer the widest curriculum as possible.
Linda Parker, the director of ALL, thinks that targets for uptake will help modern languages, but that there is a need for "some sort of positive discrimination and incentive for schools to continue to teach ... these subjects. It is a question of equal opportnities"

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