Best Practice

Bucking the languages trend

In the midst of a decline in foreign language learning in Scotland, some schools are inspiring young people to buck the trend. Sam Phipps finds out how.

Eliane Whitelaw, head of languages at Leith Academy, displays only the faintest traces of her native French as she tells me the good news. The rest of her accent is unmistakable Edinburgh, where she has lived for more than 20 years.

In S1, S2 and S3 the school offers French and Spanish on a rotating basis. At the end of S2, pupils can choose a second foreign language and at the end of S3 they are free to drop one or both if they like.

“This year, we’ve got the best ever intake going into S4 because we have about 70 pupils who have chosen to carry on with Spanish,” Ms Whitelaw said. “In the past, it’s usually been about 25, and a good year, like last year, nearly 30, which was still not bad at all against the national trend. But 70!”

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