The Japan Foundation delighted to report that the UK government published a new draft national curriculum on 8th of July 2013 that includes several amendments that are beneficial to teachers and students of Japanese as it gives schools a free choice of which language to teach. The national curriculum applies to all state maintained schools in England, but does not have to apply to academies, free schools or independent schools. There will be one last consultation on this draft, which is due to be introduced in schools from September 2014.
We would like to thank all of the teachers, pupils, businesses, organisations and individuals who responded to the various government consultations over the last year. The latest report from the Department for Education specifically mentions that a large number of respondents mentioned Japanese, and argued against the prescriptive list of seven languages. We have outlined a brief overview of how the changes affect Japanese language education below. You can see the full report here and the new framework document here.
Key Stage 2 (pupils aged 7 – 11)
The Department for Education has removed the proposed list of languages from the key stage 2 programme of study for foreign languages to give schools a free choice over which modern or ancient language pupils should study over the four years of key stage 2. This is fantastic news for primary schools that already teach Japanese, and for schools that would like to introduce Japanese in the future.
The Japan Foundation London is keen to support primary schools that would like to start Japanese. We have funding, resources and a whole range of courses and events for teachers; we hope many more primary schools will use our support to introduce Japanese classes at this level.
Key Stage 3 (pupils aged 11 – 14)
There is also good news for the many secondary schools where pupils begin to study Japanese at key stage 3. “Teaching may be of any modern foreign language and should build on the foundations of language learning laid at key stage 2, whether pupils continue with the same language or take up a new one.” This means that even if feeder primary schools are unable to teach Japanese, it should not affect the ability of secondary schools to maintain their current Japanese classes.
As some primary schools do already teach Japanese, the Japan Foundation London is keen to work with schools to bridge the gap between key stages 2 and 3 to ensure pupils will be able to progress smoothly into secondary school and continue to study Japanese at higher levels.
Key Stage 4 (GSCE level 14 – 16)
Modern foreign languages are not compulsory national curriculum subjects after the age of 14, but all pupils in maintained schools have a statutory entitlement to be able to study them. This means that schools must provide access to at least one language course at key stage 4 level, which leads to a formal qualification.
The government is also running a consultation about GCSE accreditation. You can read the subject content and assessment objectives here, and can respond to this consultation here.