Language assistant scheme escapes axe

A century-old education programme has been saved from the Chancellor's cuts after the Government came under pressure from Independent readers to guarantee its funding.

After this newspaper revealed that selection for the programme had been suspended pending a spending review, readers began a petition which attracted more than 4,000 signatures.

Now the Department for Education has said that the language assistant programme, run by the British Council, will continue to receive funding and recruitment for next year.

The programme's alumni include the Harry Potter author JK Rowling, and the broadcasters Fiona Bruce and Angus Deayton. The BBC journalist Reeta Chakrabarti , writer Stephen Clarke and impressionist Rory Bremner also taught in foreign classrooms, while Aston Villa manager Gérard Houllier worked as foreign language assistant in England.

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