OFSTED – ¡Vámonos!

Category: OFSTED

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of presenting at the PSB MFL conference via Zoom.

My presentation was entitled More than words with the subtitle Language learning is about more than learning lists of vocabulary. In it, I discussed my ‘idea of what ‘list of ingredients’ for language learning, particularly in the primary context. After discussing OFSTED’s 3 pillars and 3Is, I moved on to present my 7Cs!

And what are my 7Cs?

I was thrilled with the response to my presentation and want to thank all the attendees for their kind words; I was floating on air all day despite an afternoon of stircrazy 10 year olds who’d not been out to play all day followed by parents evening!

If you’re interested in what else I shared, my slides can be viewed below.

What do you think? Have I missed a C? Let me know!

Fun in Acapulco starring Ursula and Elvis, or is it our hosts, Sue Cave and Steven Fawkes?

Following on from the success of last year’s event , it’s time for the second (online) ALL Primary Languages Conference. Colloquially (and rather romantically) known as Acapulco, this event on Saturday 6th November promises to be another memorable event.

The conference title is An Ambitious Primary Languages Curriculum and features a keynote from Clare Seccombe followed by sessions from Kate Percival, Vicky Cooke, Ellie Chettle-Culley, Marie Allen and someone called Lisa Stevens 😉 If you use Twitter, the hashtag will be #ALLplconf.

I’m really looking forward to a quality few hours of ideas and inspiration and hope that you can join too.

If you’re a member of ALL or a trainee student it only costs £5 otherwise the cost is £25. How do you become a member of ALL? Find out here! Heads up – you can join as a primary school for £50 which is less than an individual!

The programme is viewable here and you can register here.

*Part of a series of posts trying to summarise some of the sessions at Language World this year*

A review of inspection findings, and recommendations to improve provision in modern languages

Anne Looney HMI (Subject survey advisor for OFSTED)

The role of the subject survey advisors is management leadership and organisation of subject survey service.

Subject surveys are carried out in 30 primary and 30 secondary a year. They last 1 day for primary or 2 days for secondary and carried out by specialist inspectors supported by additional inspectors. The letters (reports) are published on OFSTED website and the primary letters do not have gradings on them. There is a 3 year cycle of reports and this report pulls together evidence from 2007-2010, with some reference to emerging evidence.

There are grade descriptors on OFSTED website for each of the common features –

  • achievement
  • teaching
  • curriculum
  • leadership and management

and special issues  (for 2007-2010)

  • reading
  • ICT
  • take up KS4
  • progress to entitlement at KS2


In Primary languages, there is generally a positive picture with language learning becoming an integrated and established part of the primary curriculum.


  • good – outstanding in just under 6/10 schools
  • most progress in speaking and listening
  • less systematic development of reading
  • least developed skill is writing
  • KAL and understanding of basic grammar developing well
  • ICU developing well in most but not all (very creative ways seen of developing ICU, using ICT, native speakers, not just about language they’re learning in many – more than the language they’re studying)
  • clear enjoyment



  • good/better in 2/3 of 235 lessons observed
  • teacher subject knowledge and teaching methods mostly good; occasional shortcomings in pronunciation and intonation (these shortcomings are significant when in the key language of the lesson)
  • class teachers well supported by native speakers, FLAs and other specialists
  • assessments predominantly satisfactory (emerging evidence shows that often still the weakest area)



  • good / better in more than 1/2
  • combination of calssroom and external specialist generally supported provision well
  • Fr most popular; Sp and ger in a smaller number also others
  • by end of survey, large majority planned using KS2 Framework
  • not all schemes wewre adapted sufficiently to match needs of mixed age, time constraints,
  • planning for progression through KS2 remained a relative weakness (can be due to exploiting comptetence of staff etc)



  • good / better in more then 2/3
  • strong commitnmtn from senior leaders
  • generally clear rationale
  • transition arrangements to secondary schools genrally underdeveloped
  • weaknesses in montoring and evaluation of provisoon – senior leaders often didn’t feel competent to judge
  • improvement in teacher training over period of survey (emerging evidence of more trainees with language skills)


Entitlement to learning

  • progress towards entitlement improved during survey – good in 2/3 schools visited in the final year
  • of 14 schools contacted during survey who were not then tehing MFL all but 2 were by the end
  • rationale for deciding which language to teach increasingly sound  with improving sustainable plans  – clear that many are continuing with commitment to the benefits for the pupils.

From the secondary report-

“KS3 are increasingly looking at KS2 experience BUT insufficient acknowledgement of language work done in feeders”

“Strong leadership is typified by innovation, good use of local initatives and networks, and good liaison with primary and post 16 providers”


Challenges for primary

  • development of pupils’ early skills in reading and writing
  • clarification of progression through KS2
  • teaching straegies for mixed age classes

OFSTED offered the following advice to DfE – “consider how best to support effective consolidation of Primary languages” and also advised groups of schools to support increased liaison to bring coherence and continuity of language learning at point of transfer.


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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