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 http://www.ocr.org.uk/news/2012/item_043.aspx 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