Skip to main content

So what about that Conservative Ebacc commitment?

Update 14.6.15 - now looks like Ebacc will be introduced in full, including GCSE MFL for all, but with first teaching from September 2018.

*******************************************************************************

We will require secondary school pupils to take GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography, with Ofsted unable to award its highest ratings to schools that refuse to teach these core subjects.

Conservative manifesto



Given that education barely featured in the election campaign, it's not surprising, perhaps, that this pledge went somewhat under the radar. Needless to say, it has huge ramifications for languages and for school accountability as a whole.

First question: should the government be able to tell Ofsted on what basis they can award grades? It would appear to seriously compromise Ofsted's independence.

Next, with regard to languages, this represents a volte face for the Conservatives. Since languages became optional under Labour, the Conservatives have always resisted the idea of making them compulsory once more. The Ebacc accountability measure certainly bribed schools in the direction of languages and triggered a slightly greater take-up at GCSE, but there was no indication that languages may become compulsory once more.

But let's look at that manifesto pledge more closely.

They say We will require secondary school pupils. I notice they do not say ALL secondary school students. Am I nit-picking?

Next, are we to presume that the statement applies to all schools, including free schools and academies? After all, the national curriculum currently does not. Would we be in the absurd situation of maintained schools having compulsory languages, while academies and frees do not? Could this mean - and I am stretching the argument to its limit here - that this would be an incitement to schools to academise?

The statement about Ofsted grading also suggests that schools may choose to refuse to apply the policy. Does this mean free schools and academies, or all schools?

The phrase "core subjects" is used. Do they mean "core" in the technical sense? This would be new for languages and give them equal status to maths, English and science.

Or, is this pledge really saying that the government accepts many schools will choose not to enforce compulsory languages and humanities and that, as before, the accountability regime will, penalise schools who make that choice, not just by a lower Ebacc score, but a lower overall school rating?

What if they really do mean that all schools must make languages compulsory for all at KS4? This has serious implications with regard to teacher supply. After 2004, many language teachers dropped out of the profession and we are now in a situation where language teacher supply is problematic. If schools were all to reintroduce compulsory languages at KS4 there would not be enough teachers.

Furthermore, we would be back to a situation where many pupils, unable to cope with the demands of (a toughened) GCSE would struggle in the classroom, achieve little and cause problems. Add to this the fact that the government allowed a valid alternative to GCSE to wither (Asset Languages) and seems to undervalue vocational language qualifications, we are potentially left with a real mess.

Let us see how this unfolds. Will realities hit home and will the government quietly abandon their Ebacc pledge?

Comments

  1. Hi Steve - will probably comment on the forum as well, but you raise some very interesting and excellent points. Do we know what the lovely Ms Morgan's view is on MFL? I look forward to being appreciated as a linguist again, should there be mad rush to entice us all back into the fold!

    Keep up the sterling work in the meantime.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi. Thanks for leaving a comment. No, I haven't heard Nicky Morgan say much about languages. I'm a little surprised language teachers have not picked up on this manifesto commitment. Surely teachers read the Tory manifesto!?

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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…

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…

Learning strategies (3)

This is the third in the mini-series of blogs about learning strategies. So far, we have looked at some (rather scant) research evidence for the effectiveness of strategies. Bear in mind that a lack of research evidence does not mean strategies do not work; if there is any consensus, it is that they are probably useful and probably best used when integrated into a normal teaching sequence. We then looked at a classification of different types of strategies.

In this blog Gianfanco and I look at how you might integrate strategies into your teaching. There is nothing revolutionary about this stuff! You may do a good deal of this type of thing already, but you may also be new to the concepts and applications of learning strategies.


Let's look at how you might use strategies, particularly with regard to the teaching of listening and reading. Remember: this is just about how you help students to use strategies to become better listeners and readers.

How to teach strategies 

The research …