Three years ago, MFL in KS2 (Italian) was taught in separate lessons and was free to the school, thanks to the Italian government. French was taught in KS1 during teachers’ PPA time. This was a great starting point, but teaching and learning were not formalised. Then, a self-evaluation of our MFL practice revealed areas of strong concern: children’s lack of confidence in speaking, lack of continuity in transition from KS2 to KS3 and a relatively low level of interest in learning languages. Many teachers also expressed their own lack of confidence in teaching pronunciation adequately and in speaking the language.
The SLT developed a strategic plan to integrate MFL into the whole school curriculum and daily life. The aim was to bring about successful language learning for the children – we needed pupils to make sustained and measured progress in the primary phase – but we also needed them to bring a set of solid language foundations with them into the new secondary curriculum.
Pupils now learn French throughout the school from Y1 to Y6, taught by a specialist MFL Co-ordinator. It is part of the timetable from Y4-Y6. In all one hour French lessons the class teacher sits in to learn the lesson of the week. The class teacher will then allocate an extra thirty minutes to revisit French during the week. So in effect pupils receive one and a half hours of French teaching per week.
St. James’s school gained the Links Mark Award – a National Award for innovation in language teaching. MFL teaching has improved significantly and is widely recognised by staff and parents now as forming a strong part of the curriculum. And as a Catholic school in the community, St James’s reflects the global nature of the Church in hosting language clubs in Spanish, French and Italian. Some pupils from the GTC (Georges Tancred Centre for children on the Autism Spectrum) are included in the French lessons.
This year, every pupil in Y4 achieved Bronze in the Lingua Badge Award (Language Ladder level 3). In Y6, we now have almost 40% of pupils taking Silver (level 4). The plan is to increase this to 75% over the next two years. Our bilingual children achieved Gold (level 5 and above).
Staff are developing their language skills through a series of INSET led by the MFL coordinator and lunchtime drop in clinics; class teachers are familiar with the KS2 MFL Framework and sit in French lessons and support small groups of pupils.
Parents have commented on the children’s positive attitude and progress and bilingual and native speaker parents have become more actively involved themselves, for example in multilingual storytelling in Y3 and multicultural finger rhyme initiative in EYFS.
French is fully embedded in the school life and ethos, for example pupils and staff are doing lunch time prayers in French and Makaton; it is integrated into the curriculum and included in every year group’s weekly planning. Termly plans and resources are on the Curriculum Share for every year group and work is differentiated. The level of progress being made is still dependent on the core role of the full-time MFL co-ordinator as specialist teacher.
- Coordinate with new Catholic School (St Richard Reynolds Catholic College) – to improve transition through cross-phase teaching
- Continue to raise standards with the majority of children taking Silver in July 2014 and more able children taking Gold.
- Further development of the Lingua Badge Award, for example to include a higher Platinum level, to bridge the KS2/KS3 gap.
- Engage further help from parents in supporting children with further Lingua exercises