Ofsted has at last released a report summarising its survey inspections of languages from 2002-7. Here is a link
This is a complex report, covering primary, secondary and adult education, but for some reason not sixth forms. The core problem appears to lie in provision for 11 to 14 year olds, where teaching and learning were seen as good in a third of schools - roughly half the proportion in other subjects - and the overall quality of work was seen as satisfactory. The balance of strengths and weaknesses in the report indicate that this was a marginal judgement, and a punch may have been pulled - is provision for lower-attaining children satisfactory or not? Without access to the full evidence, we can't know, and yet these are the children who are dropping out in the greatest numbers. If the proportion of teaching and learning listed as good is provided, why is the proportion that is less than satisfactory not given? I've requested this under the Freedom of Information Act.
The key recommendation is that primary and secondary schools should
on the basis of accurate self-evaluation, tackle the weaknesses identified in this report as necessary, using the identified good practice to improve provision and outcomes.
In other words, Sort yourselves out. But can the schools whose work is barely satisfactory - and not one is rated unsatisfactory - do this without substantial outside help? And where would this come from? There are very few experienced consultants left. A start would be for each school concerned about languages to send a teacher to the two-day conference on the Isle of Wight this October, with a clear brief of what to look for.
Here is a link