Keep our languages exams - every language is an asset
  • Petitioned Paul Steer, Partnerships Director

This petition was delivered to:

OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations)
Paul Steer, Partnerships Director
Department for Education
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education

Keep our languages exams - every language is an asset

    1. Terry Lamb
    2. Petition by

      Terry Lamb

      Sheffield, United Kingdom

OCR plans to reduce its Asset Languages assessment scheme from 25 to only 5 languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin) from 2014. This has been in part as a result of government policy not to recognise Asset Languages as contributing towards the English Baccalaureate and therefore school performance indicators. This decision will leave many languages and language learners without accreditation in the UK. (See for more information)

Asset Languages currently offers accreditation for Cantonese, Cornish, Hindi, Somali, Swedish, Tamil and Yoruba, for which no GCSE examination exists. Even where GCSE exams exist, the GCSE is often designed only for learners who speak the language at home, not for those who have learnt it as a foreign language. Indeed we need to be developing more capability in assessing the diverse range of languages spoken and learned in the UK, not less, if the nation is to value and benefit from the rich multilingual resources at its disposal. Research in 2005 showed that 61 languages are taught to school age children in the UK, for which qualifications were available in only about one third.

The removal of Asset Languages qualifications in so many languages will set back attempts to encourage the learning of a broader range of world languages. A major contribution of Asset Languages is that they offer accreditation for language learning at a level lower than GCSE in languages such as Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish and South Asian languages, which business leaders say are needed to develop British exports to BRIC and other high-growth countries.

The decision also represents a blow to ethnic minority communities who wish to see their children achieve qualifications in their heritage languages, and could be regarded as discriminatory. One of the great achievements of Asset Languages has been to make no distinction between the status of languages or the status of learners: an intermediate level in Bengali is exactly equivalent to an intermediate level in French or German, since all are based on the same ‘can do’ statements.   

If you believe that rewarding knowledge of a wider range of languages is important for our communities, society and economy, please sign our petition urging OCR to reconsider its plans for Asset Languages, and Government to reconsider its policy towards this accreditation.

Read the letter written to OCR on 3 August 2012 by Dr Terry Lamb on behalf of Speak to the future - the campaign for languages


Recent signatures


    1. Reached 3,000 signatures
    2. Consultation by OCR on plans to drop 20 languages

      Terry Lamb
      Petition Organizer

      We now have over 2,500 signatures. Thank you all. Keep spreading the word.

      OCR has now begun a consultation into its plans to drop 20 languages from the Asset Languages scheme. This is another important opportunity for you to have your say. Visit the following page for more:

      On this page there is also a direct link to a survey aimed at providers using Asset Languages:

      You may need to copy and paste these addresses into your browser address field.

      You can also air your views or take part in wider research that OCR is conducting on language provision by emailing

    3. Article in the New Statesman

      Terry Lamb
      Petition Organizer

      Article in the New Statesman by Rowenna Davis supporting our petition.
      "In the middle of a recession, this country is about to decimate a rich resource. Locked in some of our poorest communities, this resource is completely sustainable and promises to boost export growth. Over one million young people in state schools already speak part of another language at home – Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese and Urdu to name but a few. But instead of investing in this talent, the government is about to rip up qualifications in some twenty languages."

    4. Reached 2,500 signatures
    5. Coverage in the Times Educational Supplement

      Terry Lamb
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you for your support so far. Our Asset Languages petition was covered in the Times Educational Supplement on Friday: "Qualifications widely used in schools in 20 foreign languages - including Hindi, Cantonese and Tamil - are facing the axe under plans drawn up by one of the major exam boards."

      We're now over 1,500 strong, but need to keep growing. If you haven't done already, please share the petition with your friends, colleagues and networks - together we can make a difference.

    6. Reached 1,500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Leonora Samuel LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • almost 2 years ago

      I teach many students whose mother tongue isn't English, and I want their home cultures to be celebrated.

      • almost 2 years ago

      Cornish - Support one of the original celtic languages in Britain.

      • almost 2 years ago

      Languages are important but under-valued in the UK, cutting back on the Asset programme supports the view that we don't need to learn languages here, when in fact the reality is the complete opposite!

    • Bryony Freeman LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • almost 2 years ago

      It is so important that speakers of community languages can have their skills recognised.

      • almost 2 years ago

      Learning languages is a a critical skill for students


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