A message for DfES
"Education Secretary Alan Johnson backs the recommendation of a review by Lord Dearing, that all children should learn a language from the age of seven. This should happen by 2010, as part of the next curriculum overhaul. But there is no move to reverse the decision to make languages optional beyond 14 - despite a sharp fall in the number of pupils taking GCSEs. In 2004, pupils were allowed to drop languages in Key Stage 4, the two GCSE years. Ministers said they were bowing to the subject's unpopularity." [BBC news]
Children are not empty vessels. You can't just take the lid off and pour information in. They don't work that way.
Children are unique individuals, which means that each one is different. Some will want to learn a second language; others won't. Some will find it quite easy; others will find it very difficult. Being forced to try to learn a second language will be heaven for some children and hell for others.
There are several millions of children in UK schools; hundreds of thousands of seven year olds. Why do you persist in treating them all exactly the same?
This makes it very difficult for
"The parent of every child of compulsory school age [to] cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable -by sending their child to school. Indeed, the only parents of seven year-old schoolchildren fulfilling their legal responsibilities will be those who - by pure luck - have children who are apt and able to learn a second language at age seven.
(a) to his age, ability and aptitude" [UK Education Act 1996, Section 7]
And then it's going to be optional again for fourteen year olds? Why compulsory at seven and optional at fourteen? Does a child suddenly become capable of making a choice at the age of fourteen, when it wasn't seven years before? I can't see any place in the 1996 Education Act where the definition of aptitude and ability varies according to a child's age.
Or... do we, perhaps, have people in charge of making these decisions who don't actually know much about children at all?