Decline in foreign language qualifications drops under SNP
While thousands of young people from all over the world flock to Scotland to learn English, the number of young people gaining a language qualification in this country has plummeted by more than 50 per cent under the SNP government.
Figures released by the government show 60,176 pupils gained a qualification in a foreign language in 2007 – but by 2017 that figure had dropped to 28,503. That represents a 53 per cent decline during a decade of SNP rule.
The fall is particularly severe in more basic qualifications, raising concerns the figures could worsen in coming years as pupils lack foundation skills. Scottish Labour said the figures exposed the SNP’s woeful record on education – and put Scotland’s economy at risk in the increasingly competitive world of international trade.
In April, representatives from the Scottish Whisky Association and Scottish Engineering warned that a lack of foreign language skills was hampering Scotland’s ability to compete internationally. Scottish Labour’s economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP (pictured right) said: “These figures are truly shocking. Foreign language qualifications not only provide children with an extremely valuable skill, they make them more comfortable visiting and working abroad. That is why this sharp decline under the SNP does not just damage children’s life chances – it damages our economy too. The SNP is right to place a great emphasis on building the export market for Scottish goods, but as usual Nationalist ministers are failing to back-up their lofty rhetoric with action. As the Scottish Whisky Association and Scottish Engineering recently stated, Scotland cannot hope to compete internationally if we do not equip our children with the skills to work in a globalised market. The SNP is failing Scotland’s children, failing Scotland’s economy and failing Scotland’s future.”
Former languages teacher, Elspeth Crockett, of Alexandria, defended the SNP on this issue. She said: “This is a complex matter and has little to do with any particular political party. In 2007, when I retired as a modern languages teacher, many schools still treated languages as a core subject, meaning that all pupils had to study languages throughout the first four years of secondary school. Since then a large number of secondaries have removed the obligation to study languages for 4 years. This has caused numbers to drop significantly. The plain fact is languages are intellectually demanding to learn and many pupils choose less demanding subjects, which, they think, will produce better results. I have to defend the SNP on this one since they have tried to boost languages in primary schools.”