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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

Future of Routes South West - Statement made on 29th June 2016

South West

Since its inception, Routes into Languages has played a significant and recognised rôle in encouraging young people in schools to consider and engage with the importance of languages, for personal as well as career development. Here in the South West we can be proud of our track record in schemes as varied as the Speaking Competition, the more recent French Drama Festival, and the Pop Video Competition; even more recently the work with Bristol University on the history and culture theme resulted in a jointly badged MOOC.

Central to successful Routes operations is a Project Manager, whose salary is a proportion of the funding required. Without that funding it would not be possible to continue the scale and engagement of all we have done. But we shall continue to operate.

As has been increasingly borne in on us since the Comprehensive Spending Review, the likelihood of continued HEFCE funding for Routes was slim. Nationally, Routes regional Directors were encouraged to engage with their institutions to seek continued funding to ensure sustainability. This was done, but regrettably did not bear fruit.

A scoping exercise undertaken at national level in recent months is clear on the positive impact that Routes has had across the country in encouraging the uptake and continuation of languages. However, no further central funding is available, though the Routes ‘brand’ will continue, now housed in and coordinated by UUK’s International Unit.

Whilst we in the South West considered other approaches to funding, it was clear that ideas such as subscriptions charged to local schools would impose a burden on them which they would be unlikely to be able to take on.

With regret, therefore, we must announce that this celebrating success event is the last that Routes South West will be able to coordinate on this scale. We realise that you will be as disappointed as the consortium is. The partnerships we have built are essentially on hold; individual institutions will seek to offer taster events from within their own budgets, but a regionally coordinated hub with a dedicated Project Manager will cease to exist on 31 August.

We can be proud of what has been achieved to date. And we are comforted by the knowledge that you, the teachers, pupils and families who have known Routes, will seek to continue its principles in what you do going forward.

As Co-Directors we would like to place on record our thanks to all those members of the Routes family with whom we have worked in the South West, ably coordinated by Irena Holdsworth to whom a special vote of thanks is due.

We shall keep a Routes watching brief as time goes on, and should circumstances change we are ready to take on the challenge again on a larger scale, working in partnership to ensure that languages and the understanding between different peoples that they represent, continue to play their part in making us better people.

Thank you all.