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major plank of your policy, you don’t want to see disappearing over the horizon a key element of the delivery of it.” Educators are clear that the loss of the human infrastructure that the British Council’s figures represent also goes against the early intervention agenda laid out in the SNP’s manifesto. “Starting languages at a young age, whilst in school, is the best way to learn and will hopefully ensure universities continue to see a steady stream of Scots hungry to learn languages at university several years later,” says Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland. Cunningham labels the cut in language assistants as a “false economy”. Apart from undermining future learning outcomes, those backing the campaign are clear that Scotland could be forgoing future economic benefits. “You can buy in your own language, but you have to sell in the language of the person you’re selling to,” says Anderson. He recalls attending an event at Holyrood hosted by a delegation from Germany, Scotland’s second largest trading partner. “Tey reckon that if


Outward thinking


The British Council Scotland’s new director comes naturally to the role of fostering international links


It should come as no surprise that Lloyd Anderson is trying to ignite a public debate about internationalism in Scottish education. It is fair to say that the newly-installed director of the British Council Scotland embodies the values and experiences he feels that Scottish schoolchildren need better access to. Anderson, a Londoner whose background in


life sciences first brought him to Edinburgh as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh in the 1980s, has a wealth of overseas experience with the British Council. This includes postings in New Delhi, Moscow and Tblisi, as well as a stint as Director of Global Science, encouraging exchanges and collaborations between scientists in the UK and overseas. The experience shapes his approach to promoting Scotland to the world. “Science is a very good way of building bridges


to other nations, because even with countries that are absolutely at the brink of war with each other, you’ll find that in the scientific world, because there’s a common interest and a common language, people can really get on, even if governments can’t,” Anderson says. “I went to CERN, and you go into the control room


for the experiments they’re running, and you will see, literally, an Iranian student sitting next to an Israeli, sitting next to an American, sitting next to a Pakistani – it’s the most awe-inspiring thing. “There’s this giant digital monitor showing you all


the data feeds from the experiment, and there’s data going to Buenos Aires, off to Singapore, Japan, Egypt – and all these people are collecting information from the same experiment, and it’s being run by a team of very young scientists who come from every country


40 www.holyrood.com 12 December 2011 Lloyd Anderson


imaginable. “That’s what’s driving everyone – they have the


same logic and the same passion. I think CERN is a great example of how you can transcend national issues.” Anderson’s idealism comes in spite of several brushes with less pleasant elements of international


people sell in the language of the consumer, the sales go up by about 45 per cent, so you’re going to sell an awful lot more to Germans and Chinese if you have some language ability. It’s not just about being global citizens; it’s about an


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“You can buy in your own language, but you have to sell in the language of the person you’re selling to”


economic return for Scotland.” Te falling numbers of language assistants in Scotland could also have a knock-on effect on the aspirations of young Scots seeking to teach overseas. Anderson suggests that countries bringing in Scottish teachers could turn elsewhere in the search for English teachers for their own classrooms. “You might find that they


start bringing in English language assistants from Canada, or America, or Australia, which would be to the detriment of Scotland,” he says. For Anderson, the issue goes beyond the number of language assistants in Scottish classrooms. He puts it in terms of Scotland’s wider aspirations on the world stage. “If Scotland really has intentions to be out there on the international stage, it needs to be aware of the things that would make


that happen, and the skills that young people need to compete, and to think about some of those issues,” he says. “My worry is that pioneering spirit


evaporates,” Anderson adds. “Te Government needs to try and encourage young Scottish people to be more outward looking.”


relations, not least as director of the British Council’s Moscow office during a particularly low point in relations between Russia and the UK. The British Council was subjected to a lengthy and politically charged court proceeding over an unpaid rent bill. The organisation was eventually cleared; for Anderson, the episode brought him closer to the resilience and creativity of his youthful staff. “What I found was that, because


of the loss of the offices and the changeover of staff, we had about 24 really bright young things working in the Moscow office, and really cleverly using social networking platforms to reach people across Russia, because we had no other way of doing so. They wanted to bring the best of UK fashion to Moscow; they wanted to bring young musicians; they wanted to look at urban regeneration, and how old factories in Moscow might be saved, and what the experience of people in Glasgow and Liverpool in doing this might have been [for] that post-Soviet generation have a very international outlook.” So what has drawn him back to


Edinburgh, and how does it compare to his more exotic experiences? “In a way, all three are going through


big periods of change,” Anderson says. “In Georgia it was about the post-Soviet world and trying to be part of Europe; cutting the ties with Russia but finding ways in a new political sphere, and the same is true in Scotland. It has that sort of edgy newness about it that in a way Moscow did and Tblisi did. And they’re all cold.”


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