The number of state secondary schools offering Urdu as a foreign language has almost doubled in the past four years, according to figures released today. According to a report by CILT, the national language learning centre, pupils at more than 10 per cent of schools study the subject – up from 6 per cent in 2007.
But it is the brightest spot in an incredibly bleak horizon for the provision of languages in state schools. Its rise is put down to teachers encouraging pupils to pursue their mother tongues. Languages are considered some of the toughest subjects to take at GCSE, and those who speak a foreign language at home are at an obvious advantage when it comes to taking exams.
The report warns that the provision of languages is now "associated with privilege" – particularly at GCSE and A-level – with only independent and grammar schools and specialist language colleges still retaining a high level of provision.