Assembly Education Policy Cuts off Wales, Claims MP; LANGUAGES: Take-Up Falls 10pc

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK SPEED Political Editor

NATIONAL Assembly education policies risk leaving Wales isolated on the world stage with not enough emphasis on foreign languages.

And take-up rates of language courses in the nation's schools, which are lower than those in England, could mean Wales missing out on international business deals, ministers were warned yesterday.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant used a Commons debate on foreign language teaching across the UK yesterday to launch an attack on the policies being pursued by the Assembly's coalition administration.

His comments came as Plaid Cymru launched its own attack on education policies in Wales, calling for a new national curriculum that was distinctively Welsh.

Plaid said in an education debate in Cardiff that the current curriculum was a ``confused mix of Government prescription, market-driven reforms and bureaucratic burdens''.

It called for abandoning standard assessment tests in favour of continuous assessment, an emphasis on personal, social and health education and a cut in pupils' workload.

But education minister Jane Davidson said Wales already had a new, radical, agenda for education and she gave a warning that reforming exams would confuse employers and put Welsh pupils at a disadvantage.

At Westminster Mr Bryant, Labour, warned that Wales was at risk of becoming a country only able to talk to itself rather than others.

With numbers studying a foreign language in Welsh schools falling by 10pc in recent years, Mr Bryant said the situation was worse in Welshmedium schools than those where lessons were in English.

While the figure for those studying a foreign tongue in English-language schools stood at 41pc, it was only 33pc in Welsh-language schools, he claimed. ``If only one in every three is learning a modern language then I think we are leaving ourselves with a long-term problem,'' said the MP. …