March 27, 2009 – ¡Vámonos!

Day: March 27, 2009

I’m a great fan of Pocoyo – just a shame that Stephen Fry doesn’t do the voiceover for the Spanish version. In the following video, Pocoyo encourages us to join in with La Hora del Planeta.

Tomorrow from 8.30-9.30pm is Earth Hour – when we are encouraged to switch off the lights and vote for the Earth.

A cute clip with a worthwhile message that little things – and little people! – can make a big difference.

Following on from my 30 minutes on the International Dimension on Tuesday, the assembled group were treated to a session led by Pam Haezewindt, HMI, on inspecting Primary Languages.

Here are some of the points, comments and observations that she made.

Subjects are not inspected as separate entities in setion 5 (whole school) inspections but
issues arising from the school SEF and preinspection briefing may be investigated, so PMFL may be visited to probe generic points eg behaviour.

Pam pointed us towards the following document which can be downloaded from the OFSTED website using the number quoted.

The changing landscape of languages
(An evaluation of language learning 2004/7)
July 2008
report – ref no. 070053
(Also details some generic findings from whole school inspections – at least a 3rd of all inspections mentioned MFL in some way.)

Some comments from the report –

‘The French language pervades the school’

‘A pilot scheme to teach Spanish in y3 and 4 broadens horizons, builds self esteem and adds to pupil enjoyment’

‘Recently introduced Spanish lessons have spurred on pupils’ interest i another langauge and this is having a good effect upon their understanding of letter sounds in Spanish as well as English.’

Subject inspections are carried out as part of the survey inspections OFSTED is required to do. These are inspected according to the headings of section 5 schedule but each subject also selects an issue to look at in more detail.
In languages, the current subject issue is ‘progress toward entitlement in KS2’

Evidence collected -2005-7
In half the schools the effectiveness of the introduction of languaegs and progress towards good
enthusiastic pupils enthusiastic teachers

Improvement needed in –

  • sound spelling links
  • ICT use by pupils
  • assessment
  • monitoring
  • reliance on external providers
  • liaison with secondary schools

One third of schools identified were not visited because they had not begun languages, or, significantly, had begun but stopped due to staff leaving.
These schools have all been telephoned this term and only two have not now introduced a language.

2007-8 – what has changed?
This is most recent report

The context –

  • mostly language spoken to Y3 and or 4
  • if provided in y5 and 6, mainly similar to Y3 and 4
  • few schools with progressions from Y3-6 – it’s early days
  • the large majority teach French, 30-40 minutes a week, plus some extra provision.

  • Effectiveness is good or better in 2/3 schools
  • Achievement and provision were graded good or better in 2/3 of schools
  • Personal development nearly always at least good, and outstanding in 1/5
  • almost all schools fostered excitement


  • listening skills good
  • speaking skills developing well
  • Pupils will respond with confidence and enthusisasm to instructions and questions
  • teachers use a variety of mean to help students pronounce well
  • in some schools KAL and ICU developing well (still some way to go) – some still 4 skills not 5 strands
  • teaching and learning good overall
  • senior leaders commiteed
  • self evaluation good

Areas still to improve and develop

  • sound spelling links
  • reading from early in learning
  • writing (some reluctance, wishing to leave until Y6?)
  • building on pupils’ own languages
  • teacher confidence to build the language into everyday teaching and learning contexts
  • time (some schools managing to find 50 minutes a week)
  • self, peer, continuous and summative assessment
  • working with secondary schools (what happens to all these pupils who have been learning languages for years)

In 2008-9 the key issues under consideration are entitlement and curriculum models.

The process of a primary subject visit is as follows-

  • phone calls to school (2 weeks notice)
  • pre-visit letter
  • timetable in school
  • visit (no requirement for subject SEF) – talk to staff, coordinator, pupils (you can choose to certain extent), observation (can be from 1 to 4 lessons!)
  • oral feedback
  • written feedback = post visit letter – no headings in letter so no ‘outstanding’ ‘satisfactory’ etc

The Rose Review – Interim report
A language is to become compulsory in primary schools from September 2011. (Not to be confused with 2010 deadline for entitlement!) The children who are currently in Reception will be the cohort with compulsory entitlement.
Languages currently sit within the area for learning; ‘English, communications and modern languages’
Current debate about which and how many languages is ongoing.
Do respond to the next consultation

I found all this information really useful and hope that it will be useful to others too.

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