There is nothing in education law that sets out what children should be taught by schools, or for how long they should be taught each subject. The exceptions to this are that Religious education must be taught and also Gaelic in Gaelic speaking areas.
The Scottish Government, through Education Scotland, issues guidelines on the curriculum (what is taught in schools) to be followed by education authorities. Education authorities and head teachers share the responsibility for the management and delivery of the curriculum.
Curriculum for Excellence is the current guidance schools are working to. The Principles and Practice document for modern languages explains how learning other languages enables children and young people to make connections with different people and their cultures and to play a fuller part as global citizens. The Scottish Government’s expectation is that almost all young people study modern languages as part of their general education. This will be within their ability level and with any additional support they need.
The Curriculum for Excellence framework aims to ensure “flexibility to organise, schedule and deliver the experiences and outcomes in ways that meet the needs of all learners, but also provides reassurance about consistency where necessary.”
A parent cannot remove a child from classes other than classes that cover sex education or religious education. The best way forward for parents concerned that their child will not manage a second language would be to talk through their concerns with the school. Parents and the school could then discuss the possibility of flexibility within the child’s subject choices or discuss the additional support that might be needed for a child to participate in a modern language class.