Towards a National Languages Strategy: Education and Skills

by the British Academy, the Arts, Humanities Research Council, the Association of School, College Leaders, the British Council and Universities UK

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The British Academy, working with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Association of School and College Leaders, the British Council and Universities UK, presents proposals for the education and skills component of a UK-wide national languages strategy.

Languages are strategically vital for the future of the UK, as we look to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and strengthen our relationships across the world. We need urgent, concerted and coordinated action at all levels from primary schools through to university and beyond to address the inadequate, longstanding, and worsening supply of the language skills needed by the UK to meet future needs.

In our proposals we have sought to be creative in identifying new solutions. We have taken a joined-up, holistic approach which is coherent across the education and skills systems and which can, where appropriate, be implemented across the UK, to maximise the return which can be achieved. We have sought to learn lessons from previous languages strategies and recent initiatives, and have recognised that while there is a cost for implementation, this can be modest and the responsibility for meeting those costs does not have to rest solely with government. This strategy seeks to build on existing initiatives and to increase their impact, led wherever possible by the language education community itself.

Languages in the UK: a call for action

Backed by the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Royal Academy of Engineering, this statement from the British Academy says that the prospect of Brexit ‘makes it even more important for the UK to have the languages needed to forge wider commercial and other links’.

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