"Worrying" dip in language learning in Scots schools

Published in The Scotsman newspaper on 29/04/2013 00:00

FOREIGN language learning in Scotland’s schools has dipped to “worrying” new levels, education experts warned last night. The warning that the decline will have an negative impact on Scotland’s standing in the world came after it emerged that only about one in ten S5 pupils is taking foreign language courses.

 An analysis of education statistics by The Scotsman has found the number of Higher course entrants for modern languages has fallen by nearly a quarter over the past 20 years, from 10,179 to just under 7,887 in 2011.

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Mandarin blossoms among Scots language pupils

It's difficult, unfamiliar, and far from a traditional educational choice. So why are more Scottish pupils bucking the UK trend and venturing out of their comfort zone to study Mandarin? Jackie Kemp speaks to some of the people involved in the pursuit of oriental excellence. From The Scotsman April 29 2013

A group of girls in brightly coloured silk costumes are conversing animatedly in Mandarin – performing a short play for visitors to their school, Leith Academy, Edinburgh. The city comprehensive’s staff are clearly proud of this high-achieving group of six girls, all the children of immigrants from Africa, Asia and diverse parts of Europe, who earlier this year beat stiff competition to make it to the finals of the British Council’s Chinese-speaking competition, for the second time in a row.

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Tiny school wants one for the roll

  • "One more pupil please!" reads the appeal sent out by Rebecca Ridgway, desperate to find a young family prepared to move to one of the emptiest places in Europe to stop the school roll falling below 20 at her children's primary.

    Ridgway – who runs the adventure holiday company founded by her father, the yachtsman John Ridgway – takes her two children, Hughie, eight, and Molly, 10, to school each morning in an open boat with an outboard motor from their home in Ardmore, in Sutherland.

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Competition for places at Scottish universities will be fierce in 2012

Could Scottish students lose out as university places are offered to English school-leavers with lower A-level grades?

Out of KIlter

Tuition fees: widening the gap between England and Scotland. From the Guardian Education Nov 15

With tuition fees in England set to rise in 2012, the divergence between Scottish and English higher education looks likely to grow.

Edinburgh University: there are four universities in Edinburgh alone, so there is some scope for merging of functions and facilities.

Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian

Five centuries ago, while the gilded youth of England headed off to Oxford each autumn with their retinues, the kilted sons of Scottish fisherfolk and farmers – tradition has it – walked to Scotland's ancient universities, each carrying a bag of oatmeal on their shoulders – rations for an entire term.

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