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Curriculum reform April 2013

In December 2012 the Department for Education conducted public consultations about language education at Key Stage 2 (Primary Schools, Year 3-6, children aged 7 to 11) and about Key Stage 4 (Secondary Schools Year 10-11, pupils aged 14-16). We would like to thank everyone who participated in these consultations and submitted their opinions.

Recently, the Department for Education has published reports about the results of these consultations, as well as information about the newly-revised draft National Curriculum for England. We have included a summary of the consultation reports, links to the original reports and a link to the new draft National Curriculum below. There is a further consultation from the Department for Education about the draft National Curriculum, with a deadline of Tuesday 16th April 2013. We have also included a link for this below.

In the consultation regarding language education in Key Stage 2, it was found that 61% of respondents were not in favour of a restrictive list of 7 languages, including 13% of respondents who specifically mentioned that Japanese language education should be included at this level. However despite these findings, the draft National Curriculum retains the original list of foreign languages (French, German, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Latin and Ancient Greek). Japanese has not been included on this list and we are concerned that this will be an obstacle to Japanese language learning in primary education in the UK. In our response to the Department for Education, we will once again request that the restrictive list of seven languages is removed, or if that is not possible, we will request that Japanese be included on the list.  

On top of this, the draft National Curriculum for Key Stage 3 (Year 7-9, pupils aged 11-14) states that language learning should build on the foundations laid at Key Stage 2. As the meaning of ‘foundation’ is not very clear, the implications of this could be that many schools will choose languages for Key Stage 3 that are on the approved list of languages for Key Stage 2 (French, German, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Latin and Ancient Greek). For this reason too we are concerned that that the number of institutions that teach Japanese may diminish. In our response to the Department for Education, we will ask for a clarification that Language learning at Key Stage 3 should “build on the foundation of language learning in KS2, but not necessarily in the same language.”

At the Japan Foundation, London, one of the ways we encourage mutual understanding between Japan and the UK is by promoting Japanese language education. As an organisation dedicated to supporting Japanese language teaching, we are therefore submitting our opinion to the Department for Education’s consultation.

We are concerned that the new draft National Curriculum places too much emphasis on linguistic competence. Teaching Japanese as a modern foreign language should not be limited to studying language. It should also be an opportunity to use language as a vehicle, to get students to understand Japan’s world view and to show Japanese values. One example would be to look at behavioural patterns after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, or to look at the work ethic that supports Japanese technology and the economy. We feel that there are many aspects of Japanese culture that could help children in their development as citizens of the UK and the world. We are concerned that a decline in the diverse range of languages offered to children, leaving out languages such as Japanese, could lead to a lessening in appreciation and tolerance towards the rich cultural diversity of British society.

We would like to encourage everyone who is interested in Japanese language education, Japanese studies, Japan/UK cultural exchange, Japan/UK related businesses and all other Japan-UK related organisations to respond to this consultation with your support for the continuation of Japanese language education. 

○ Click here for a link to the Consultation on reform of the National Curriculum in England and the response forms. The deadline for responses is April 16th 2013.

You can download the Word file to respond to the consultation, (from the link above). To submit your response, either e-mail your word file to or upload it to here

You can read all of the above information in Japanese by clicking on the document below.

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