Doctors give pupils sick notes to duck French and German lessons amid fears the stress of learning a second language is harming their mental health

Children are using doctors' notes to excuse them from French, German and Spanish because language lessons apparently damage their mental health.
Delegates at the National Association of Head Teachers annual conference were told yesterday pupils are being 'wholesale' signed off because the subjects are making them 'unwell'.
Marijke Miles, a member of the union's executive, said schools reporting the problem were 'high achieving' in leafy, expensive catchment areas.
Children were being made 'anxious' by compulsory languages and were being signed off them 'in order not to become completely out of school', she added.
Rob Campbell, the chief executive of the Morris Education Trust in Cambridgeshire, said the problem was 'an increasingly common occurrence', although doctors' letters often mention a range of stresses, not just languages, making the child unwell.
His trust, which runs two secondary schools, encourages languages but finds many pupils view this as their weakest area. 
'You would have kids who are requesting to drop subjects, and it's often subjects that they've struggled with the most,' he said. 'They don't want to face the prospect of doing badly.'
He added that in some cases children might try to get out of a course through 'pester power' but in others the mental health threat was 'genuine. I know they aren't well, I can see that. That doesn't feel right.'
He said children were struggling most with languages partly because the 'culture' often means they grow up without another language. 
Some parents also do not see the point. Mrs Miles told the conference, in Telford, Shropshire, that the trend presents a problem because schools need pupils taking languages to hit official targets.
She said it raised questions over whether languages should be included in the 'EBacc', the suite of core subjects the Government wants at least 90 per cent of pupils to take.
Mrs Miles said she made the discovery when working with the Royal College of Psychiatrists for a white paper about child mental health. 
At a meeting with head teachers, they told her they were having trouble meeting the EBacc requirements.
She added: 'What my colleagues told me was that parents were having children wholesale signed off by their GPs [from] the study of modern foreign languages because it was making them so unwell they couldn't attend school. 
My secondary colleagues cannot make their Ebacc targets because the children are getting medically disapplied from the modern foreign language.'
And Mrs Miles also warned: 'We are going to spend millions on improving children's mental health when the school system is affecting it adversely. So you are going to pay to solve a problem that you are creating with your own structures.'
The Ebacc requires English, maths, a language, science and history or geography at GCSE. 
The Government wants 90 per cent of students to study it by 2025, and Ofsted will assess schools on meeting this goal.
A Department for Education spokesman said: 'Language teaching is not designed to be stressful. Schools should encourage their pupils to work hard and achieve well without this being at the expense of their wellbeing.' 
He added: 'Learning a foreign language can help broaden a pupil's horizon and ensure this country remains an outward-looking, global nation whose young people have the skills they need to compete with their peers around the world.' 
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