From Daily Telegraph Dec 1 2010
Latin will undergo a revival in state schools under Coalition plans to put it on an equal footing with modern foreign languages. Schools will be able to offer classical languages instead of French, German and Spanish as part of sweeping reforms to the curriculum, it was disclosed.
Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, said primary and secondary schools would be given the freedom to teach a wide variety of languages to give more children a decent grounding in the subjects.
It is hoped the reforms will help reverse a sharp decline in the number of teenagers studying languages to GCSE level.
Speaking at a conference in London, Mr Gibb said learning Latin would gave pupils the confidence to move on to other languages in later life.
“Latin gives us not just the skills to learn not just Romance languages like Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and French, but the aptitude and confidence to learn new tongues beyond western Europe,” he said.
"So when people urge schools to teach a modern language rather than Latin, there need not be an either-or.
“Learning an ancient language equips you to learn a modern language and vice versa. And learning any language, new or old, helps give young people the academic hunger, thirst and confidence to keep on exploring the world around them.
"That's what makes the decline in the studying of languages at GCSE level such a tragedy."
The number of people studying languages beyond the age of 14 has plummeted by almost 50 per cent in the last seven years to just 206,087.
Only 9,246 teenagers took a GCSE in Latin last year – and some 70 per cent of entries were from private schools.
Mr Gibb suggested that primary and secondary school reforms would help reverse the decline.
Under the last Government, all primary schools in England were expected to teach languages to children as young as seven to boost interest in the subject.
But schools were encouraged to focus on modern languages, preventing many from putting Latin on the timetable.
On Tuesday, it was suggested ministers will sweep away the restrictions as part of a widespread review of the National Curriculum being launched in coming weeks.
The Coalition is also planning to encourage more pupils to study traditional subjects at secondary level. For the first time, schools will be rated by the number of teenagers gaining good GCSEs in five core subjects – English, maths, science, a language and a humanities subject.
Mr Gibb revealed that Latin and Ancient Greek would count towards the language requirement.
Addressing the conference staged by the Politeia think-tank, he said: "It is our view that in a school system that moves towards a greater degree of autonomy, the National Curriculum will increasingly become a benchmark against which schools can be judged rather than 'a prescriptive straitjacket' into which education is squeezed - a straitjacket which has been squeezing out Latin."