Private schools suffer ‘more severe’ decline in languages than state sector

The TES is reporting claims from a public school languages director that independent schools are suffering from a decline in language learning that is “more severe” than that in the state sector…

Nick Mair, director of languages at Dulwich College and chair of the Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association (ISMLA), told a conference today that the rising importance of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) had marginalised foreign languages. 

“You all think it’s hunky dory in the ivory tower…[but] it isn’t,” he said, adding that the number of private school pupils taking A-level French fell 10 per cent last year, higher than the national average, and the number taking German fell 9 per cent. 

“[If] you think it’s all OK in independent schools, it simply is not,” he said. “It’s simply that the starting point is higher, but the decline is either more severe than, or as severe as, that in state schools.” 

Speaking at a Westminster Education Forum debate in London, Mr Mair said this was because “every senior management [team] is banging the STEM drum”…

Mr Mair said part of the solution could lie in adopting the American approach of “STEAM” subjects, in which an art subject was added to science, technology, engineering and maths. Across the pond, he said, “they think scientists and engineers are losing out because they don’t have a language.” 

More at: Private schools suffer ‘more severe’ decline in languages than state sector


STEAM – that’s an interesting idea. 

Of course, in the United States they tend generally to specialise less early than over here, but what do you think of mixing things up and encouraging STEM students to add an art?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


[advpoll id=”189″ title=”Today’s Poll” width=””]


Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link

Schools' hidden funding crisis: teachers take drastic action as cuts hit hard
Estelle Morris: Education’s really hot topic has not been discussed in this election
Categories: Private Schools and Secondary.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Fact is public schools have a lots of overseas students who won’t study traditional languages catered for but STEM instead

Let us know what you think...