MSPs in dark over cost of more language lessons

Primary pupils are set to learn three languages in future. Picture: PA
Primary pupils are set to learn three languages in future. Picture: PA
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THE cost of the SNP’s ambitious plan to teach pupils three languages from primary school remains unknown, a parliamentary committee has warned.

The Scottish Government has allocated an extra £4 million this year for teaching children a second language from primary 1, and a third by primary 5.

But Holyrood’s European and external affairs committee concluded the financial implications would not be known until a forthcoming audit had been completed.

Christina McKelvie, the SNP MSP who chairs the committee, said: “We have found it hard to assess whether this funding is adequate, as it is still not known what the current levels of skills and resources for language learning in schools are.”

The committee’s report stated that there would be “no accurate information” until councils had completed the audit at the end of this year.

The SNP wants to improve language teaching to plug a skills gap that it estimates is costing the economy more than £500m a year. Headteachers have dismissed the £4m funding for the initiative as “a drop in the ocean”.

A languages working group set up by the government has estimated that two to three times that amount would be required.