Monday, 20 July 2009

QCA Languages Update-RSA meeting, ALL, London 14th July

This was my first meeting as a Regional Secondary Adviser for ALL (Association for Language Learning) and it proved a very useful information-packed first contact.

The first session was lead by Chris Maynard, curriculum adviser for QCA (now QCDA). Chris presented the latest news regarding the recent development in languages and although a lot of the information was quite similar to the recent update by the Languages Company I attended in Manchester last month, I made note of the following points:

· New website to be set up about the changes in the Primary Curriculum for this Autumn-although the changes will not have to be implemented before 2011.
· The consultation about the proposed changes for the MFL Attainment Targets in secondary will finish on 24th July.

It is interesting to note that although Listening and Speaking are one Attainment Target in English, writing is assessed separately-whereas the suggested change for writing in MFL is to merge it with Reading.
The current proposal is that there is no weighting between Attainment Targets, which means that the new Intercultural Understanding Attainment Target would count for 1/3 of the overall level. The difficulty to assess Intercultural Understanding has been acknowledged as well as the fact that it may put the use of the target language at risk in some classrooms. However, its link with the KS2 framework makes it a logical suggestion.

Research findings at KS2 and KS3 show that:
· 92% of Primary Schools are teaching languages during class time.
· 69% of primary schools are teaching languages to all 4 years of KS2.
· 3 out of 4 schools feel ready for the 2011 deadline (that’s interesting, considering it is not everybody’s opinion)
· The aims most often mentioned for languages at Primary School are: to develop enthusiasm, Listening and Speaking skills and understanding other cultures.
· The typical discreet provision was a 40 minutes' weekly lesson.
· Transition to KS3 and progression within Ks3 remains a cause for concern.

An interesting way to facilitate this was mentioned by a RSA who has set up a cross-phase MFL co-ordinator meeting for his Local Authority. I thought this is a very interesting idea in many respects although the practicalities might be more difficult for larger LAs. This would also be more effective if it was supported by an online group like a NING to encourage linking outside of the scheduled meetings.

I greatly enjoyed the thought-provoking discussion around Assessment and how formal it really needs to be for it to be considered reliable. “Are languages teachers too fussy?” “What other kind of evidence is acceptable apart from pen to paper activities and one-to-one interviews?” I liked the fact that we were encouraged to trust our professional judgement and support it with a wide range of evidence, rather than using summative assessment as the only way to form an opinion about a student’s performance. I may seem obvious, but as our accountability grows, there is also a growing suspicion towards anything that is not at least partly assessed externally. Maybe it is time to have more confidence in our own judgements...

APP (Assessing Pupil’s Progress) is soon to be extended to foundation subjects-including MFL. APP is not statutory. It is not only relying on final pieces of work but also includes looking a progress and feedback as part of the assessment process.

A new distinction was also made between day-to-day, periodic and transitional assessment: The day-to-day provides immediate feedback on what to do next, the periodic gives a broader view across a full range of skills once a term or twice a year and informs medium to long-term planning and the transitional provides official recognition of a certain level of skills.

· The KS3 exemplification website is to be updated in the near future to show examples of key concepts and processes from the revised Programme of Studies as well as National Standards expected for each Attainment Target.

· QCA has developed a DVD to support MFL teachers with the controlled assessment of Speaking at GCSE. The DVD includes 14 examples of speaking activities with commentaries from examiners but does not provide detailed guidance on marking as this is provided by the different examination boards. The DVD can be ordered free of charge from (order reference QCA/09/4138)

· During the Autumn QCA will be working with a small group of school on GCSE speaking activities involving interactions between students. Examples will be published with commentaries in March 2010.

As a result of the questions following the session, I made a note of three interesting suggestions:
· We need to build KS3 into KS4-to ensure a continuity of approaches between the key stages. Conversely, we must also build KS4 into KS3 to ensure that key skills are embedded.
· Looking at Primary MFL resources created with a typically primary approach and check how they can be adapted to Year 7 to ease transition issues (secondary awareness of primary methodology is key)
· Teaching the Y6 KS2 framework for the first half term of Y7.


runaway said...

I am very interested in what you write as always!

Have downloaded the QCA KS2 revised units 13-24 and they are not good reading at present - progression has been chucked out the window altogether now and parrot-teaching of the past tense with set J'ai mangé + noun phrases two units (ie at least a term and a half)before the introduction of the alphabet! Frankly it just makes me want to top myself, especially as said unit originally was focussed on distinguishing between plural and singular nouns.
Set phrases are not teaching they are training. Why on earth bung in the pretence of teaching a tense here with no explanation of the concept of tenses to reinforce it? It completely flies against all primary methodology. I am in despair!
Roll on summer, roll on some QCA explanation of this mess!

IC Jones said...

Hi Jo
Thanks for the warning! My KS2Folders are still on the "To Do" pile. Maybe, I should take a closer look now to sort what I am going to do with the units... I agree with you about teaching tenses-you either do it or you don't and teaching them as set phrases is certainly not a long-term "Language Learning Strategy".

Anonymous said...

Hi! have the QCA changed the schemes of work recently?

IC Jones said...

Hi there
Yes KS2 units have been added on and published recently. One hard copy can be ordered per school.


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