Skip to main content

"Bribing" schools to do GCSE MFL

I read that the Conservatives intend to get Ofsted to only award Good and Outstanding grades to schools where all pupils do EBacc subjects to GCSE. This is part of their agenda for all students, whatever their interests and abilities, to have access to an academic curriculum. It has been calculated that only two schools in England would currently get a Good or Outstanding on this basis!

Firstly, there is an issue regarding the independence of Ofsted who are supposed to be immune from political interference, but I shall put that to one side.

Secondly, there is the major issue regarding whether all students should be doing a very similar curriculum up to 16. I understand the argument being made. All students, it is claimed, should have access to what middle class students study and we should not be offering some kind of easier, second class curriculum to some students. It's the old sheep and goats/education versus training argument which has been debated for years.

I happen to lean towards a curriculum design which suits each pupil's needs and which does not necessarily value traditional subjects over others, but that is not really my point here either.

What I find strange is the notion that the inspection and accountability systems are being used to lean on schools to favour some subjects over others. When Gove introduced the EBacc measure as a means to get more students doing languages, science and humanities, I thought, at the time, that it was a crafty move. (We have since learned from Sam Freedman, adviser to Gove at the time, that the policy was fairly off the cuff and the name decided upon at the last minute in time for an interview on the Andrew Marr show.) Indeed, numbers taking languages have risen a little, even if only temporarily. I now think it was a wrong-headed decision which stemmed from an ideological belief in school autonomy.

If the government thinks all children should do MFL to 16, they should just say so and make it compulsory. That would be the honest approach.

Their policy reveals an underlying uncertainty about this issue. It seems that they want more children doing languages, but not all, and are using the accountability system to twist the arms of heads, effectively bribe them, to get more pupils following the traditional academic route.

For the record, I have serious doubts about a languages for all policy in the UK, but if we were to go down that route we should do it honestly and design courses that cater for the needs of all students.





- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…

Three AQA A-level courses compared

I've put together my three reviews of worthy A-level courses which you might be considering for next September. They are all very useful courses, but with significant differences. The traditional Hodder and OUP book-based courses differ in that the former comes in one chunky two year book, whilst OUP's comes in two parts, the first for AS or the first year of an A-level course. The Attitudes16 course by Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri is based on an online platform from which you would download worksheets and share a logon with studenst who would do the interactive parts (Textivate and video work). The two text books are supported by interactive material (Kerboodle) or an e-text book.

Attitudes16





An excellent resource which should be competing for your attention at the moment is the Attitudes16 course which writers Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri have been working on for some time. You can find it here at dolanguages.com, along with his excellent resources for film and li…

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’(http://pdcinmfl.com). The point i…