Saturday 6 November 2021

ALL Primary Languages Conference Online 6.11.21


The conference has just finished - what a day!  Packed with great presentations and loads of great ideas to take away.

In my keynote I went through the history of primary languages, to see if we can learn anything from the past about what we want primary languages to look like now.  Rather than paste a link to my PowerPoint, which is just a timeline with a few words on, I've created a proper timeline infographic:

At the end of the keynote I set out my call for action:

What is our wish list then for an ambitious primary curriculum that really works?  Where should we be heading on our journey?  Here is my wish list:
  • First of all:  schools should have easy access to quality schemes of work that are achievable by specialists and non-specialists alike, accompanied by resources that exemplify the best practice in primary languages, which are suitable for all ages and ranges of ability, and which tick all the boxes of the national curriculum programme of study.  Do we think that there should be a national, standard scheme of work?  I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

  • Secondly, we need some kind of guidance as to the optimum time allocation, ideally from the DfE, so that schools can provide enough time for primary languages, to ensure that all children have the potential to make substantial progress in their language.

  • It would also greatly help us in our endeavours if all school leaders saw languages as a help rather than a hindrance, as an asset to their school rather than something to be feared and ignored.  Generally speaking, children have very positive attitudes towards language learning, which we hope they will carry with them into their later lives, and primary schools should be taking full advantage of that.
    We also need to work on the attitudes of some secondary teachers towards primary languages.  If secondary schools and the government want to improve uptake at GCSE and beyond, shouldn’t they be taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by the teaching of languages in primary schools?
    Of course we could also do with an improvement in the attitudes towards language learning in the general population.

  • In our journey through the past we have seen the huge benefits that local, regional and national networks can have for language teaching and learning.  Yes, ALL has the regional and local networks and hubs, all run by volunteers, but isn’t it time that the government lent a financial helping hand? 
    I will add here the need for more training for teacher trainees, who often have to start teaching a language with next to no input during their training.  Of course, a system of training for all teachers who have to teach a language would be invaluable. 
    Finally on the subject of support, wouldn’t it be great to have, as the White Paper recommends, a national taskforce for primary languages, our own version of NCELP to promote excellence and ambition?

  • It would really help if we had a nationally recognised and used assessment scheme, by which we could assess in particular our Year 6s and that Year 7 teachers could use as well so as to avoid starting from scratch with their new students.  It would also help all schools to know where their learners should be heading.

  • And last but by no means least – transition.  Did you notice how this one has been an issue since the early days of primary languages?  It was brought up by the languages strategy in 2002, and here we are nearly 20 years later no further forward.  In fact, according to Language Trends, the numbers of primary and secondary schools working together for a smooth and effective transition has been going DOWN.  We have to get this right!
So what do you think?  Are you with me?  We’ve come too far to give up now.  We owe it to the children to get this right – they can’t be ambitious if we are not ambitious on their behalf for a cracking languages curriculum that really works.

No comments:

Post a Comment