Fewer pupils learning German ‘risks Scots economy’

A decline in pupils learning German has led to concerns over Scotland's economic relationship with the eurozone nation. Picture: TSPL
A decline in pupils learning German has led to concerns over Scotland's economic relationship with the eurozone nation. Picture: TSPL
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A DECLINE in the number of pupils learning to speak German could impact negatively on Scotland’s economic potential, a Conservative MSP has warned.

Figures from the Scottish Qualifications Authority showing a drop in the number of students taking the language at Higher level were highlighted by Murdo Fraser at Holyrood.

The SQA statistics show that uptake of German at Higher has dropped by around 20%, from 1,261 in 2009 to just over 1,000 in 2014.

The number of specialist German teachers has also almost halved from 261 in 2004 to 136 in 2013.

Mr Fraser asked Learning Minister Alasdair Allan: “Given that Germany is our second largest export market, and we have very large numbers of German tourists, who along with Americans, are the biggest spenders when coming to Scotland, is he not as concerned as I am about the impact this will have on our economic potential?”

Mr Allan admitted there were “legitimate concerns” from some organisations about keeping German at the forefront of modern languages in schools.

“We are trying to increase the number of people in future who have access to modern languages in schools, but we want that to be a broad range and that would certainly include German,” he said.

Last month Mr Fraser expressed frustration that his children are only taught French in primary school when it is “a very minor language”.

He suggested Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin or German would have wider reach in terms of international trade.

SNP MSP Christian Allard said Mr Fraser had tried to “undermine the teaching of French” at a time when people should be supported to learn as many languages as possible.

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