Leading article: Light at the end of languages tunnel

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The Independent Online

This means that, even if a school has no languages specialists on its staff, it will still be able to meet the Government's pledge to offer languages to every child from the age of seven who wants to learn one. Teachers' notes accompanying the CD-rom will allow staff to learn whichever language they choose at the same time as their pupils. There will therefore be no excuse for any school not to meet the Government's pledge to seven-year-olds. Monkseaton Community High School has also recognised the fact that, with the Government's pledge coming into effect by the end of the decade, there will be a wide range of differing language skills among pupils starting secondary school in the near future.

It is therefore developing a package for key-stage three, 11- to 14-year-olds, which will allow every pupil to move on from the level they have reached in primary school. This is infinitely better than the practice in many secondary schools of moving every youngster back to square one and starting from scratch, thus wasting any advantage they might have gained from learning a language at primary school.

When Charles Clarke unveiled the primary languages strategy when he was Education Secretary, it was widely seen as a way to spike criticism for the Government's controversial decision to drop compulsory languages from the curriculum at 14. It is fortunate for the Government that Monkseaton Community High School decided to produce its own programme. After years of gloom over the state of modern-languages teaching, there is at least some light at the end of what was looking like a very long, dark tunnel.

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