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Ofsted commentary: How HfL supports schools to deliver primary languages

In his recent monthly commentary (May 2016), Sir Michael Wilshaw describes how evidence from recent OFSTED inspections and feedback from teachers, parents and pupils have highlighted a number of common concerns surrounding the provision of both science and foreign languages at Key stage 2 and a need for a ‘sharper focus’ on these subjects to prepare children for the challenges they will face at secondary school.

He refers to studies which suggest that the rising tide of achievement in primary schools, buoyed up by a renewed focus on English and Maths, ‘has pushed other compulsory subjects, notably modern foreign languages and science, to the margins of the curriculum in many primary schools’.

In this article Jackie Rayment, Languages Adviser for Herts for Learning, shares some of the ways that we have been working hard to support schools in the delivery of a quality KS2 Languages curriculum. 

‘We understand the financial constraints that schools are facing’ says Jackie, ‘and so, since September 2015, we have been offering all Hertfordshire primaries a free 30 minute consultation in school to answer any questions you might have about KS2 Languages.  Anyone that has not yet had a free consultation and would like one can contact us for an appointment.

In 2014 we launched The Primary Languages Quality Mark (PLQM) to support schools in meeting national requirements for statutory language provision in KS2. The PLQM is an accreditation system that enables schools to see where they are meeting the national requirements for statutory language provision, assess the impact of teaching and learning in languages and raise standards as they work towards best practice in KS2 languages.  The PLQM is a national award and is valid for three years.  An overview of the award and a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ guide can be found here.

We also provide support for measuring progress in KS2 Languages.  The Languages Programme of study for KS2 (2013) sets out expectations for the end of the key stage but does not give guidance as to what progression might look like across the four years of KS2.  With this is mind, we have produced a new Progression and Assessment pack for KS2 Languages.

In Hertfordshire we have been working for a long time to support schools with the development of ‘spontaneous talk’ in the languages curriculum and in all Key stages.  Our new ‘Target Language in the Classroom: KS2 Languages’ pack (with accompanying CD) is designed to help KS2 teachers (specialists and non-specialists alike) become familiar with and use a range of simple, high-frequency target language structures so that the language studied becomes a medium of classroom communication.  This pack is currently available in French only but we hope to make it available soon for Spanish.

Did you know that, in addition to the training courses shown on the Herts for Learning training and events booking system, we can offer bespoke twilight training on a range of topics from Phonics to Teaching Grammar at KS2 throughout the year?  The cost of twilight training can be shared between schools coming together for CPD.  Regular features of our training programme for KS2 Languages are the ‘Three Day Subject Leader for KS2 Languages’ course (1 day per term) and the ‘Primary Leaders of Language Conference’ in December where we have a national expert as keynote speaker.  New for this year is our ‘Move On Up Transition Conference’ with national primary languages expert, Catherine Cheater.

Our Strategic Learning Networks for MFL can be found throughout Hertfordshire.  Our SLN are groups of primary and secondary teachers who come together every half-term to share best practice and to collaborate on transition issues and on a wider range of projects.  This year, the SLN have been working on an exciting STEM and Languages project to produce primary science resources in French, German and Spanish called ‘The Language Experiment’ which will be continuing in the next academic year.

And finally, we know that there is a lot of good practice for KS2 Languages in Hertfordshire.  If you are doing something that you would like to share with a wider audience, please let us know and we can feature your school in ‘The Exchange’.

For more information contact Jackie Rayment, Languages Adviser on email jackie.rayment@hertsforlearning.co.uk