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The noble Lords, Lord Quirk and Lord Lucas, mentioned the languages ladder. It closely reflects music grades and was designed with the philosophy of music grades in mind. Students can demonstrate their competence in languages in small stages and progress without having to make the giant leap to GCSE that was previously required. I am delighted to say that I am about to present the 10,000th award under the languages ladder scheme, and that must be a sign that it has reasonably wide take-up, which is a welcome development. I am delighted that the noble Lords highlighted the languages ladder for examination of how its wider use in schools could be encouraged to ensure that teaching and learning languages do not suffer the rapid fall-off that they currently experience in secondary years.

In respect of Amendment No. 91, which was tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, I am glad to say that the position in primary education is rather better. When we introduced the new policy on languages, which included making them optional at key stage 4, our philosophy was that we needed to do much more to make a reality of what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, was seeking to do back in the 1970s; namely, the systematic introduction of languages in primary schools. In order to carry through that policy, we not only established a new national entitlement that will take effect in due course, but we provided significant support for languages teaching in primary schools, including a new PGCE for languages in primary schools—formerly, there was no dedicated PGCE for teaching languages in primary schools—and providing financial support to allow schools to introduce languages. Since that policy began in 2002, more than 2,000 primary teachers with a languages specialism have been trained, and in the financial year 2006-07 and until the end of this decade, a further 1,000 primary school languages teachers will be trained

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each year. By the end of the next financial year, we will have invested more than £60 million to build capacity at primary level.

There is evidence that this is having an effect. In December 2002, only one in five primary schools was offering language learning opportunities, most of that was extracurricular and there were no trained primary teachers specialising in languages. Now, according to the latest survey, 56 per cent of primary schools are delivering or planning to deliver languages learning programmes, so significant improvement has taken place in primary schools. However, I accept that there is a great deal further to go. We need to look not only at training additional languages teachers for primary schools, but at how languages can play a role in the development of extended schools at primary level and at how we can further encourage supplementary schools, which can have a significant languages component, which we are also seeking to do. We also need to look at how we can further embed the languages ladder so that primary school pupils not only start to learn a language, but take the stages of the ladder seriously to improve their competence year on year. If we can crack that, we will have made a substantial contribution to ensuring that pupils in secondary education are motivated to learn languages. In languages, as in all other subjects, motivation is the key. If students arrive at secondary school motivated to learn languages by already having made progress and possessing steps on the languages ladder, then half our job will have been achieved.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, this has been a very interesting debate. I thank noble Lords who took part in it and the Minister for his reply. The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, said at the beginning of her contribution that modern foreign languages are in freefall. I share her concern. We differ on what to do about it. We feel that if we started teaching modern foreign languages earlier more young people would want to take them up to external exam level and go on to university; so we would not need to compel them.

The old saying is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Clearly it is broke and I close by saying that I hope the noble Lord will fix it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

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