Mandarin for all pupils, says Ed Balls, so goes the headline in the Daily Telegraph. No, not an update of the apple for teacher routine but a plan by the aptly named Balls to allow all children to learn the Chinese language. He also thinks that more children should be able to study Polish, Russian and Arabic up to GCSE level. It's all very laudable but like so much Nu-Labour policy it's all about the soundbite, grabbing the headlines with little or no attention paid to the reality of delivering on the ideas. How will schools cope with yet more subjects to schedule? Could we just get the basics right? In Scotland, and to be fair Balls has nothing to do with the situation north of the border, one in five children leave school without being fully literate. It may be better in England, but i suspect not by much. . .