Primary Modern Foreign Languages: Longitudinal Survey of Implementation of National Entitlement to Language learning at Key Stage 2

Pauline Wade , Helen Marshall , Sharon O'Donnell

06 July 2009

Report available to download from DfE

Research brief available to download from DfE

Appendices A available to download from DfE

Appendices B available to download from DfE

In 2006, NFER was commissioned by the DCSF to conduct a three-year longitudinal study of language learning at Key Stage 2 (KS2) to assess:

  • the nature and extent of language learning provision at KS2 in schools in England, and
  • progress towards implementation of the non-statutory target set in the National Languages Strategy Languages for All: Languages for Life. A Strategy for England (DfES, 2002) that all children should have an entitlement to language learning in class time in KS2 by 2010.

The research consisted of an annual survey of primary schools, using a longitudinal sample (including a representative sub-sample of 500 schools, selected to eliminate any possible bias), and of all local authorities in England.

Key Findings

  • By 2008, 92 per cent of schools were offering pupils in KS2 the opportunity to learn a language within class time - a 22 percentage point increase from 2006.
  • 69 per cent of schools in 2008 were fully meeting the entitlement for all year groups - a rise of 35 percentage points from 2006. However, it is estimated that a maximum of 18 per cent of all schools may not be able to offer the full entitlement by 2010.
  • French remained the most common language offered, followed by Spanish and German. Most schools taught languages in discrete lessons, with the most common pattern being one lesson of around 40 minutes each week.
  • Transition in languages from KS2 to KS3 was perceived by staff to be under-developed and, for many school respondents, language progression remained a cause for concern.
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