transition – ¡Vámonos!

Category: transition

Making RiPL-s

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Yesterday I spent an interesting day in London at the Institute of Education, University College London attending the Festival of Social Science 2019 – Primary Languages Policy in England – Making it happen!

The blurb at the top of the agenda explains the purpose of the day:

Learning a modern or ancient language became a part of the statutory curriculum for England from September 2014. Five years into the new policy, there are still significant challenges in meeting national curriculum requirements, leading to inequity from school to school and region to region.
This event will address key issues affecting the success of primary languages and put 10 recommendations from the recently published RIPL White Paper to the test. Come and join leading practitioners and policy makers in an interactive day where your views will directly feed into a draft implementation strategy to inform the way forward for primary languages in England.
The session will take inspiration from the World Café process, combining short inputs, followed by small round table discussion of key questions, captured by graphic recording/posters, leading to plenary feedback at the end of the session, connecting main findings and agreeing points for action.

Blurb on RIPL programme
The ten recommendations of the White Paper

Throughout the day we considered six questions that covered the 10 recommendations of the RiPL White Paper. An ‘expert witness’ spoke for five minutes and then we discussed the questions at our tables with someone scribing onto large posters. I was designated scribe for my group that was chaired by Dr Rowena Kasprowicz and included Jenny Carpenter (President of NALA), Yvonne Kennedy (Herts for Learning) and Marnie Seymour (University of Winchester.) After each question, each group’s poster was collected and displayed. Half way through the day, responses to the first three questions were summarised by the ‘question chair’, a member of RiPL.

As well as scribing I tried to sketchnote the day. The five minute ‘opening comments’ are in black for each question, and the summary is presented in the coloured pen.

It was a very interesting day, discussing how primary languages can move forward and what needs to be done for that to happen.
You can read the White Paper in detail below – or read the one page summary!

Also. do check out the RiPL website – it’s full of information and research about Primary language teaching and learning.
I particularly like the One page summaries of longer research papers; a time saver and also gives a taster so you can decide if you want to delve deeper.

Sunny Bognor Regis!

I was happy to be asked to present at the annual University of Chichester MFL Conference last week, and as I noted in a previous post, thoroughly enjoyed the positive and inspiring sessions I attended.

I delivered two sessions. You can access the resources and ideas from the session entitled Using Technology for collaboration in a previous post  Sadly, TodaysMeet no longer exists but otherwise the ideas, recommendations and apps are the same!

The second session was entitled Tell me a story! and concerned the use of stories and books in the languages classroom.

The presentation is below to view. You’ll also find the links to some helpful posts and bookmarks below. I hope those that attended found the session helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment on the post if you have questions or comments!

Mi Madrid (including newly published videos of the songs!)

Link to resources for El artista que pintó un caballo azul as a text to discuss diversity.
The book I mentioned that was recommended and demonstrated by Nathalie Paris at Language World was called Poux by  Stephanie Blake – check out the sketchnote of her session here, and follow her book blog and podcast here for more great book ideas!

Storybird wiki   Watch this space for what happens to this when Wikispaces shuts later this year!

My Storybirds

ALL Literature Wiki

Pinterest links to research on Storytelling and stories in language learning

Pinterest board of online stories

Blogposts on books on ¡Vámonos!lots of posts!

It seems that some people are just incapable of getting *completely* into holiday mode and just can’t stop themselves from working!

Jo Rhys Jones is one of these mad people and over the last week or so she’s been populating her wonderful Talkabout Primary MFL NING with resources that she’s developed for a project to celebrate National Children’s Book Week.

So far she’s shared resources for the books

Bon appetit Monsieur Lapin

Je m’habille et je te croque…!

Je ne veux pas aller au lit

La gallina hambrienta

Lots of stuff there that can be used straight away or translated into Spanish, French, German or whatever other language you fancy.  You can also take the ideas and use in English literacy.

I like Jo’s idea that this type of thing can be used as a transition project with KS3 working on materials to present to KS2 and KS1.

Feel free to add to Jo’s ideas – I know she’d be really pleased if you did – and share them back again.

And if you’re involved in ANY way in language learning with primary aged kids and aren’t a member of Talkabout Primary MFL, make sure you join.  You’re missing out on so much!!

Wondering if any of you would like to add to a debate I’m having at the moment re QCA schemes for KS2. I’m trying to help someone choose the best way to present materials on a site to satisfy as many Primary MFL teachers as possible. Having drawn their attention to the KS2 Framework and the QCA units and their thematic and skills rather than topic based approach, they’re now in a quandary as to how to best present things.

In your experience, do teachers tend to still take a topic based approach?

Are people using the QCA schemes?

They’ve just been updated – how long do you think their shelf life will be?

And, here’s a tricky one! – do you think if we get a change of government that the policy and therefore Framework / SoW will get changed again?

If you were planning resources with the aim of them being used universally, would you go for topic based approach or would you choose a number of themes loosely based on the QCA schemes of work, covering a number of topics, and follow their order to get the progression through the years right.

Any insights more than welcome. You can leave comments or contact me privately if you’d rather!

Gracias xx

The lovely Joe Dale sent me the link to this video on Teachertube today – thought I might find it interesting. And I did, so I thought I’d share it with you too.

Adorable Spanish Elementary Plays is described as

High School Spanish students perform The Three Bears, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood plays for area elementary students.

The sound isn’t brilliant but the idea is clear – older pupils have worked on a play to present to younger pupils from neighbouring schools. This is an idea for transition that I love. It benefits both groups of pupils – excellence and enjoyment, anyone? The older pupils get to plan script practice and perform the play, using language they know and also stretching their vocabularies; the younger pupils are familiar with the story so don’t need to understand every word to be able to follow the plot. Both groups have fun, and links are made between the Key Stages, making ‘moving on’ easier for pupils – and potentially for their teachers too.

It’s good to see what can be done with a bit scenery, imagination and a good smattering of Spanish!

There are other videos from sparkenthusiasm that I’ve discovered via this one – more of those tomorrow :o)

Photo by zen
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Posts have been a bit sparse recently as the frantic end of term rush took over! Sports days, Year 6 leaving plays, Performance Management meetings and generally tying up loose ends got in the way of blogging. However, the holidays are here, and I’m hoping to make up for my failings over the next few weeks.

I noticed a couple of articles last week about schools in the news – Halesowen school wins award for languages and Loving languages on which I wanted to comment.

The first report is congratulating Earls High School in Halesowen (not too far from here!) on winning a European Award for Languages for their project , Project Croissant where older pupils from the High School mentor younger (primary) children through a weekly afterschool club.

I think this is a brilliant way of making links between local schools and of raising the profile of languages. I also think it’s great that the older pupils are given responsibility for activities etc and, through the project, are gaining life skills. And the activities are very appealing too! Now onder they won an award!

The second article also highlights links between phases, this time in Portishead in Somerset. Pupils at Gordano School visited St Joseph’s Primary School and taught them songs in french, Spanish and German as part of a project called Raise the Roof with Languages. Again, an activity that shows how older pupils can ‘teach’ younger pupils, making links and promoting languages. And the older pupils volunteered to help!

This kind of project is a brilliant model for encouraging language learning – not just for primary but for secondary. It’s really important to make and maintain links between phases, particularly as the Primary Languages Framework increasingly impacts on Key Stage 3 and 4.

So well done Earls High and Gordano Schools!

Fun at Fernhill.

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I have now officially been up for 12 hours (it’s 4.45pm!) and could do with a snooze, but I can’t because a) I might sleep past by stop, b)my contact lenses will stick to my eyes and c) my mind is buzzing!

I’ve spent the day at Fernhill School and Language College in Farnborough, Hampshire at the invitation of Steph Hopkins. Having met at Joe Dale’s Isle of Wight Conference 2007 where I did a couple of sessions on Primary Language Learning and eTwinning, Steph had asked me to speak at her conference entitled Creating a compelling curriculum. Although it’s a long way from Sutton Coldfield to Farnborough, I readily accepted as it’s flattering to be asked and I do like a day out :o)

My session was entitled Keeping it compelling (more of that later!)

The day consisted of sessions led by Steph in the morning about the new Secondary Curriculum, the SLNs and then a session on phonics rhythm and song, followed by workshops in the afternoon

CLIL led by Louise Wornell from Ringwood

Podcasting with Steph

Blogging and wikis with Alex Blagona from Northgate High School and

Keeping it compelling with me.

Once more, I would’ve liked to attend all the other sessions, and am hopeful that I’ll be able to catch some of them – sure Joe Dale had all his iRivers in action ;o)

Steph’s sessions were really interesting for me. As an ex-Secondary MFL teacher it was good to see how the curriculum has changed in the few years since I taught it, moving towards a more creative approach and less proscriptive content. Almost made me miss it – I did say nearly! I’m sure it would be very different. We considered how MFL can contribute to the whole curriculum dimensions of the Big Picture such as Enterprise, Creativity, Community and Healthy lifestyles. My group were considering Technology – nice one! Managed to mention EdTechRoundup, various blogs (including those of Joe, José 2 and MarieFrance) and things other people are doing with Google, Twitter, Facebook well as my own blog. In fact I could’ve gone on for ever but reined back so the rest of the group could have a say!

It was also good to see how things have changed from the point of view of informing what happens at KS2. It makes sense to me that KS2 practitioners need to have an understanding of what is happening at KS3 just as KS3 need to be aware of the KS2 Framework for their work to make sense. It’s all about being ‘joined up’ or ‘pulling together the threads’ of language learning.

There were some very interesting snapshots offered from various members of the SLNs represented at the event. They have chosen to focus on boys’ attainment and use of TL, and I really enjoyed hearing about the creative ways in which schools were addressing these aspects. One group of lads at Fernhill have been split into two teams competing in a Bundesliga to win points for their team – Bayern Munchen or Werder Bremen – with points awarded for use of TL and against for poor teamwork such as calling out. Another school were using the pupils’ interests as the focus for work on healthy lifestyles, having a lesson lead by a group of pupils on an aspect of the topic such as sport, diet etc. And Wavell School are rewarding pupils bringing in items from their travels etc related to MFL with house points, valuing pupils showing initiative and interest in the wider aspects of language learning. I particularly like the way that they had asked pupils what they’d like to do in terms of content and activity in MFL and then acted on it with a carrot and stick approach – give them what they want, and remind them they asked for it when they complain they think it’s boring. Genius!

Steph’s session on Phonics, Rhythm and Song deserves a post of its own – so it shall get one!

At the first run of the Preparation for Transition conference in Birmingham, everybody I spoke to seemed to be talking about the session delivered by Jacqui Tilt, aided by Helen Leigh, on Practical strategies to ease challenge of Transition in MFL, so I was eager to attend this time around when the opportunity arose.

Jacqui, a secondary MFL teacher and Primary MFL AST at Hanley Castle Language College in Worcestershire, works with a cluster of 8 feeder primaries and shared her experiences of transition and the approaches taken by her school to ease the potential nightmare under the headings COMMUNICATION, TRACKING and PROGRESS. s highlighted the importance of COMMUNICATION between all involved parties is vital. Ways in which this has been achieved at Hanley Castle include

  • regular network meetings, sharing effective practice, giving information and offering support with both primary and secondary colleagues attending.
  • Language College newsletter – primary colleagues are encouraged to share in this letter too so there is a ‘joined up’ approach to sharing. Where it was initially just sent to be put up on the noticeboard, primaries wanted to share this with their parents so it is now electronically sent for distribution.
  • an Annual Language Festival to which primary pupils are invited – the week before open days (good timing!)
  • The cluster (8 feeders and the secondary) were awarded the Leading Aspect Award which recognized their hard work – always nice!
  • Jacqui offers model lessons –although as she says, she is becoming increasingly redundant as primary staff have taken over the lessons to such an extent that they can be an example.
  • The Language College’s FLAs are also shared with the cluster of primaries, working on things like intercultural understanding and storytelling.
  • And there has also been the opportunity to observe one another thanks to funding from an external agency.

Something I liked about this was that it really is all inclusive – not just the teachers ‘plotting’, but pupils and parents are kept informed and involved too.

Pupils from the feeder schools all come with different experiences – so the Language College has a rolling programme with two of three language studied each year – French and Spanish, then the next year, Spanish and German, and the following German and French – so even if the child doesn’t do the language they’ve studied at Primary in Year7, there is the opportunity to pick it up in Year8, or at a lunchtime club.

TRACKING or Assessment is something that can be worrying – primary children often say that they enjoy MFL as there’s no assessment – but it does need to be done so how? The ELP is a long document to pass on to secondary colleagues – Jacqui pointed out that wading through 150 of them was unmanageable– and where to put them? I think there is a value to the ELP and that they can be used, but would suggest as a ‘show and tell’ document during the first week or so – this way, whilst the pupils share their portfolios of work with one another, teachers get a look too, gaining an impression of what has been included. A more manageable way of recording for tracking is using I can sheets and, with Helen Leigh, KS2 MFL Consultant in Worcestershire, Jacqui worked on some I Can statements based on the ELP and the KS2 Framework, and also a very simple proforma on which all the information from these statements can be synthesized into one A5 sheet. (Helen has kindly given me an electronic copy which you can download from My Box of Goodies)

And how to ensure PROGRESS? In the above way, prior learning can be seen at a glance and acknowledged, and children ‘buddied up’ with pupils of differing experience – eg a child with no previous French supported by a child who has done French for a number of years. Another way of aiding transition suggested was the use of the first few weeks for a cross curricular topic with pupils based in one place for most of the time so there’s less moving classrooms, enabling pupils to get used to the place – Jacqui is excited by this prospect as it allows collaborative planning with other colleagues at school and allows creative links to made between disciplines.

‘Creative repetition’ is a phrase Jacqui uses to explain how the potential problem of repetition – revisiting things in different ways – can be addressed. She acknowledged that it isn’t easy, but with the focus on skills rather than content at KS2, the new ‘independent learners’ that will begin to arrive will be more able to take a lead in how they learn as they exercise their LLS.

That’s the way one cluster of schools has met the challenge – lots of good ideas there with the focus again on communication between Secondary and Primary. Parts of this model might be unworkable for a school with a vast number of feeders where a ‘cluster’ would be more like a ‘mob’, but I think the more ideas the better – no two schools are the same after all, so to a certain extent every school has to find its own way.

Coming up …. Language Investigators, and the Languages Bridge.

There’s no doubt that the implementation of Primary Language Learning for all pupils 7-11 via the KS2 MFL Framework will change language learning at KS3 – there’s no way it can be avoided. So, as worrying as it may be, transition and all related issues have to addressed.

Some of the issues that are generally raised include

  • wide range of feeder school = difficulty in adjusting languages on offer to provide continuity
  • poor relationships between primary and secondary schools
  • possible failure to acknowledge prior learning
  • LAs failing to give information to secondary schools about PMFL developments
  • Little awareness of the need to change practice in KS3, especially Year7
  • Poor transference of information re languages studied and skills / knowledge acquired
  • Inconsistent approaches and practices
  • Children will soon arrive with 4 (or more!) years of MFL
  • Need for HTs to be on board
  • Change of languages
  • Demotivated by new concentration on reading and writing
  • Loss of novelty value
  • Some distrust of teaching skills of Primary teachers in MFL
  • Lack of consistency (skills, approach, quality) within schools and clusters of schools

The following question was posed today – do you think that by introducing language learning at an earlier age… pupils will be more motivated and enthused at KS3 and will they want to build on their language skills at KS4 and beyond?

Responses included

In year 7 but perhaps not by year8.’ ‘If teaching is of a high quality at KS2 that’s fine but poor teaching can be demotivating even before they get to KS3’

The overall opinion was that increased motivation would not been seen if pupils are not challenged at KS3 –‘starting again’ would demotivate learners. Pupils need to perceive KS2 and 3 as a continuum, which implies significant changes to the way MFL is taught in KS3. I think a lot depends on the quality of teaching and also on hard work now to ensure that there is a smooth transition, avoiding the feeling that pupils are starting again even if they cover the same vocabulary again. There’s no one answer – but lots of good practice across the country that can suggest models and ideas.

John Connor and David Mee both spoke about the challenges raised and highlighted the need for the following to ensure successful transition:

Communication (between all agencies involved – schools, LA, etc)

Collaboration (KS2 KS3)

Consistency (e.g. in quality of provision)

Consideration (e.g. of prior learning)


Funding (I know – doesn’t start with C and spoils my pattern :os )

They talked from their experience in Wirral and Thurrock, giving examples of cross phase collaboration between clusters of schools, and suggesting ways of addressing potential problems of diverse experience such as ‘starter packs’ for independent work, a later start to the use of textbooks, ‘master classes’ for G&T linguists, early setting and fast tracking. One idea i thought sounded interesting was everyone in Year 7 starting a new topic presented during 2 of the 4 lessons, with the third lesson being used to support newcomers to the language whilst the others work on topic packs that revise and extend primary themes. Obviously this is dependent on having a number of lessons a week! The point was also made clearly that the focus at KS2 should be on the process and skills of language learning rather than the content, thus the gap should be more easily breeched.

Carmel O’Hagan from CILT picked up these themes as she made suggestions on how to welcome pupils with diverse primary language backgrounds. She began with a lovely animated French song – Il etait un petit navire. Using a similar approach to Paul Nutt (see Let’s get active part3), we were given an envelope with fragments of the song to wave when the words were heard in the song. The slips were differentiated by colour and also by the size of font, amount of information on it. She then went on to offer advice on how to make moving into Year7 as painfree for all as possible! She highlighted that it’s not just about content but about making pupils comfortable enough to show what they can do and do know with confidence and pleasure so that assessing the way forward is clearer. Carmel acknowledged that doing the same thing again is boring, but 1) there is comfort in the familiar and 2) there’s more than one way to cover the same topic / vocabulary. Increased independence nurtured through the KS2 Framework will hopefully allow pupils to use dictionaries much earlier than was previously possible, and thus take a lead in the vocabulary employed in a certain topic, making their output truly individual. She summed it up in these comments about ‘bridging units’

‘A good unit will make pupils feel comfortable with activities, content and language – it will not matte

r if it’s actually language they know – they will be using it differently and there will be familarity too.’

‘A good bridging unit will encourage pairwork, groupwork, research and independence’.

Carmel clearly demonstrated through asking us to consider the descriptors in KS2 and 3 that there are areas of crossover between phases, and picked out the example of storytelling to demonstrate. This is an ideal choice as it covers so many bases –

links to literacy / KS2 Fwk / KS3 Fwk; covering listening, speaking, reading and writing skills; looking at language and culture, and uses creativity and imagination; looking at common letter strings and syllables; using texts as models; reading aloud and maintaining link between Yr6 and Yr7 with Yr7 acting out / reading out for or with primary pupils.

Outcomes include a sense of achievement for pupils and a feeling that their language skills from primary have been valued and good relationships established with teachers and one another whilst allowing differentiation and assessment to take place in an unobtrusive way.

By using a series of three books, the level of complexity in vocabulary and structure was increased over a period of time, culminating in the production of a new pupil written story. Beginning with a simple tale about not putting your fingers in strange places (just the kind of thing to appeal!!) and simple questions like Devinez le titre / C’est l’historie de…?, Carmel then moved on to a book, again with repetition but more text, called Le loup est revenu. Based in fairytale land, the characters all arrive for a meal and each new knck at the door is met with shrieks as they think the wolf is knocking. This lends itself to acting out with puppets, and performance to Year6 pupils by Year7, as well as audience participation with the refrain ‘Le loup est revenu’ The final book took things to another level, putting the story from the wolf’s perspective, and including newspaper accounts of the wolf’s past exploits, letters to important people and also humour that would be lost on younger pupils but enjoyed by the more mature ones! In the short time given it was not possible to explain in great detail exactly how it would work, but the idea was clear – that by using a familiar story and familiar activities, more complex ideas and tasks become less threatening.

Phew! And all that before 10.30am!

More to come in the next day or so – including Language Investigators, Language Bridges and Practical strategies to ease the challenge of transition, all of which I found very interesting.

When considering Primary Language Learning (PLL), one of the thorniest issues seems to be the transition from KS2 to KS3 – how will it be managed? The KS2 Framework for MFL and the introduction of language learning for ALL pupils in KS2 by 2010 has massive implications for KS3. In the past, many children went into KS3 with little or no knowledge of languages – now pupils will arrive with, in some cases, more than four years of language study. Added to this, not all experiences will have been the same. Some pupils may arrive with four years of French, others with Spanish, still more with experience of two or more languages. How can it possibly work?

Comenius West Midlands today held a conference entitled ‘MFL – Planning for Transition’ to discuss just this issue.

Led by John Connor (Associate Consultant, MFL, Thurrock), and David Mee (former General Inspector, MFL, Wirral), the day began with an overview of the challenges and opportunities involved in transition before Carmel O’Hagan (CILT) offered some advice on welcoming pupils with diverse PLL backgrounds. The day then offered the opportunity to attend three workshops chosen from topics including

  • Investigating Languages-a skills based approach
  • Practical strategies to ease the challenge of transition
  • Asset languages
  • Welcoming children into the MFL classroom in their new school
  • Video conferencing to support transfer and progression
  • Language Bridge
  • Liaison –the issues and how to avoid (or cope!) with them
  • Using the ELP to support transition (delivered by me – see My Box of Goodies on the right for the notes!)

before Phase groups (one for Secondary and one for Primary) to discuss the issues of the day, concluding with a plenary to draw the two lists of issues together and culminating in a highly entertaining example of using song to engage in the Primary classroom.

Over the next few posts, I hope to share some of the things presented during the day and my repsonse to them.

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