§ Captain Plugge
asked the President of the Board of Education to what extent are languages, such as Spanish and Russian, now being taught in our secondary schools, so that we may be more fitted to deal with post-war export trade to foreign countries than was the case before the war?
§ Mr. Butler
The extent to which Spanish and Russian are taught in secondary schools can best be estimated from the number of candidates offering these languages in the school certificate examinations, and I am informed that out of about 80,000 candidates, 1,250 offered Spanish and 7 Russian in 1939. The question of giving greater prominence to particular languages in the curriculum is influenced by a number of factors, of which their importance in the future careers of pupils is one. I am not aware that there has been any considerably increased demand from commercial interests for recruits with proficiency in Spanish or Russian, but I have no doubt that if such a demand is expressed in responsible quarters the school authorities will do their best to meet it. A committee under the chairmanship of Sir Cyril Norwood is at present considering the question of suggested changes in the secondary schools curriculum, and I am informed that evidence will be taken from bodies specially concerned with education for commerce.