IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


National Consortium for Languages Education (NCLE)

The newly established NCLE will be led by IOE who will work with key stakeholders across the Languages subject community, including the Goethe-Institut and the British Council.

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Who are we?

IOE, together with the Goethe-Institut and the British Council will lead a new nationwide hubs programme funded by the DfE up to £14.9 million over the next three years to re-energise language learning in state-maintained primary and secondary schools in England. 

Our vision

We believe that languages and intercultural agility can help to foster universal understanding and contribute to building a peaceful and harmonious world future. 

We recognise that Global Britain needs more and better language skills. In our globalised economy, language skills and intercultural understanding add value and widen opportunities for individuals, communities and society. 

Our mission

To fulfil this potential, we must leverage the value of all our languages by providing high quality language teaching in schools; increasing languages uptake at GCSE; levelling up opportunities for disadvantaged pupils; addressing the performance of boys; and better recognising and supporting the rich diversity of languages in addition to English spoken by one in every five of our pupils.

Our aim

NCLE will develop, support and future-proof a collaborative network of up to 25 lead hubs, each comprising up to seven partner schools, to reinvigorate and strengthen system-led leadership in languages across England and improve the learning opportunities and outcomes for all pupils.

Our ethos

We believe in collaboration, creativity and collegiality. To build capacity in languages across the regions, we will listen to teachers and pupils and develop core and bespoke training to meet their language learning needs.

Belief in progress

We are committed to building progress through policy, principles, professional development and promotion. We will uphold the recommendations and principles enshrined in Sir Ian Bauckham’s 2016 Modern Foreign Languages Pedagogy Review.

The German Promotion Project (GPP) – GIMAGINE

The German Promotion Project GIMAGINE is one part of this new initiative, set up specifically to raise the profile of studying German in depth, up to GCSE and A-Level.  It will help to:

•    build capacities
•    develop promotional material
•    support the creation wider German opportunities
•    strengthen communication by promoting the importance of German language and culture.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Why did UCL win the contract to deliver the Language Hubs Programme? 

The Department for Education tender for the Language Hubs programme was published as part of an open procurement process. Viable bids were assessed and moderated as per departmental commercial guidance, and the highest scoring bid was selected.  

What does this change in supplier mean for the sector?
The NCLE will build on and develop the work of NCELP.  The programme will apply the lessons learnt from the MFL pedagogy pilot to a new national languages programme that will continue to support the sector.  

Does this mean a change in languages pedagogy? 

The NCLE will continue to promote the principles and recommendations of the Teaching Schools Council’s 2016 MFL Pedagogy Review, and align best practice with the revised French, German, and Spanish GCSE. 

How will NCLE be different from NCELP? What are the main lessons learnt from the pilot?

NCLE will be based on priority setting, principled practice and practice-led research.  We will take full account of lessons learned from the NCELP pilot and will build on the work to evaluate, refresh, repurpose and extend available resources, as appropriate, according to the identified priorities of teachers within the hubs who may be using the NCELP approach. NCLE is committed to fully developing the recommendations of the MFL Pedagogy Review 2016. Access the NCELP resources.

What does the new programme mean for the implementation of the revised GCSE? 

The NCLE will continue to support teachers with the implementation of the revised French, German, and Spanish GCSE ahead of the first teaching date of September 2024.  

Why are you focusing on German? 

There has been a steady decline in the numbers of pupils being entered for a German GCSE over recent years, with entries declining from 10.3% in 2009/10 to 5.8% in 2020/21. This decline at GCSE is consistent with that of A level and Higher Education. Given German is a strategically important language to the UK, particularly with regard to business and industry, it is necessary that we put plans in place to reverse this decline.  

How will this programme improve social mobility? 

The Department for Education recognise the low levels of disadvantaged pupils that opt to study a language up to GCSE level. This is why we have made it an explicit requirement that at least 25% of partner hub schools must either be within an Education Investment Area or have disadvantage levels over the previous 5 years that are equal to, or greater than, the national average.  

What is the purpose of the new language hubs? 

Managed by NCLE, the hubs will seek to increase the number of pupils studying languages.  This will include improving the transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3, increasing opportunities among disadvantaged pupils to study languages, and increasing the access to home, heritage, and community languages.  
When will the new programme start? 

The contract started in March 2023. We expect the Language Hub Programme to be operational in schools from September 2023. 

Which languages are involved? 

The programme will focus on French, German and Spanish as they make up over 90 percent of GCSE entries.  It will also increase access to home, heritage, and community languages, signposting to supporting materials and good practice, and working with supplementary schools. 

What is the contract length? 

The contract commenced in March 2023 and will last for an initial three years, this will be reviewed with the possibility of an extension. 

How many hubs are involved? 

The programme will be comprised of up to 25 lead hub schools, all of which will work with other schools to improve standards of language teaching across the country, in line with recommendations of the Teaching Schools Council’s 2016 Modern foreign languages pedagogy review. Each hubs schools will work with around 5-7 partner schools. 

Who is involved in delivering the programme? 

The programme will be led by IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education & Society, working with a consortium of stakeholders, including the Goethe-Institut and the British Council 

How will the CPD be delivered? 

It will be a hybrid mixture of face to face and online delivery.  

What does the term ‘national coverage’ mean?  

We intend to establish a network of lead schools covering all 9 government regions, with a geographical spread across the country.  

What are your plans for primary provision within the Language Hubs programme?

Support for primary schools will be incorporated into the wider hubs programme. As part of their universal CPD plans, NCLE will offer courses on effective transition, including where this relates to planning and sequencing from key stage 2 and 3. 

NCLE are also considering ways to incorporate primary schools as part of the second phase of hub recruitment.

Becoming a Lead Hub School

The first phase of the Lead Hub School recruitment is now closed. If you would like to be considered for the second phase of the Lead Hub School recruitment to take place in early 2024, please register your interest.

If you have any queries please do get in touch with us at ioe.ncle@ac.uk.


NCLE Director

Director of Partnerships and Professional Development

Director of Research and Innovation

  • Professor Zhu Hua - Professor of Language Learning and Intercultural Communication

Head of Language Learning Futures

Chair of Board of Directors

  • Professor Li Wei - IOE Director and Dean, Professor of Applied Linguistics

Research Fellows

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