'Non' for languages

August 25, 2010, 6:01 PM GMT+0

New research from YouGov reveals that languages are considered the least important subject for children in Britain to learn at school.

95% of British adults consider mathematics to be an important subject, followed by English language (94%), IT / computing (91%) and science (90%).

In contrast only 43% of respondents consider French an important subject to learn. German (31%) and Spanish (30%) even come below more vocational subjects such as electronics, technology and woodwork (77%), home economics and cookery (71%) and personal, social and health education (70%) in terms of importance.

This comes as data published by the Joint Council for Qualifications shows the number of students taking a modern language at A-Level is in decline. Only 13,850 students took an A-level in French – a decrease of more than 3% in just 12 months and over the last 10 years, the number of pupils studying French in the sixth-form has decreased by a third. Figures also show a rapid demise in German, with just 5,548 A-level entries this year - a drop of almost 42% since 2000.

In 2004, the Labour government removed modern languages from the core curriculum, meaning the study of a foreign language is no longer compulsory at schools past age 14.

Latin is considered the least important subject for school children to learn, with only 12% of respondents judging it to be an important part of the curriculum.

Survey details and full results