The number of foreign language teachers in Dundee schools has fallen significantly in the last decade, figures have shown.
The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) modern language teachers in the city stood at 118 in the academic year 2007/08, with a high of 145 in 2008/09.
Since then, the number of language teachers has dropped, with only 83 FTE modern language teachers in Dundee schools this current academic year.
The drop follows a Scotland-wide trend, with figures released by the Scottish Government showing a 17% reduction in the number of modern language teachers across Scotland.
Dundee children and families services convener councillor Stewart Hunter said the council is committed to increasing the number of language teachers in the city’s schools.
He said: “The drop in the number of modern language teachers is something we are looking at, and we know it is really important that the number of modern language teachers in schools has lowered.
“We fully support the Scottish Government’s 1+2 agenda, which offers children from primary one the chance to learn a language other than English, and a second foreign language from primary 5.
“It is not from a lack of willing that these spaces are not filled, and we will continue to work to bring qualified language teachers in.
“I hope we will see the numbers of modern language teachers go up in the future.”
David Baxter, local association secretary for teaching union EIS, said there are issues with recruiting modern language teachers in Dundee and the north east of Scotland as a whole.
He said: “There is a concern with the Scottish Government’s 1+2 agenda, in that there is a lack of qualified teachers, with fewer people having taken up modern language subjects.
“If you want to close the attainment gap, you need to make sure that schools are fully staffed.
“The government should be looking to fully staff schools before the National Improvement Framework for Scottish education is implemented.
“Dundee is doing what they can, and teacher shortages in all subjects have been identified nationally, and there is no instant fix. It is important also that teaching standards should not be allowed to slip.”
A modern language is any language which is still in use, with French being the most popular taught language at National 5 level.
A recent poll conducted by the Scottish Government said 89% of people think learning a language other than English is important.
Lib Dem councillor Fraser Macpherson said the figures showed an “extremely worrying trend”.
He said: “In a competitive jobs market, foreign language skills are vital to give pupils the best possible career prospects and to achieve this we need to encourage more young people to take modern languages as a subject at school and have the teaching capacity to deliver a good choice of modern language options. I am anxious that this is urgently tackled.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We want all schools to have access to the right number of teachers with the right skills so every child in every community has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
“Through our 1+2 approach, we are committed to ensuring all young people have the opportunity to learn one language from P1, a second from P5, and at the latest up to S3. This may influence local authority decisions regarding numbers of language teachers in the future.
“The Scottish Government has taken action to maintain teacher numbers and committed £88 million this year to make sure every school has access to the right number of teachers.
“We have delivered our #inspiringteachers campaign to encourage more people into the profession, we have increased student teacher intake targets for the fifth year in a row, and we are setting targets to train teachers in the subjects where they are needed most.”