Thursday, 28 July 2011

Language World 2011: Modern Languages-Achievement and Challenge 2007-2010 OFSTED Report

This session presented the latest evidence from OFSTED. The full report and report summary are available from here.

Inspection focus:

  • Achievement
  • Teaching
  • Curriculum
  • Leadership & Management
Special issues:

  • Reading

  • ICT

  • Take-up at KS4

  • Progress towards entitlement at KS2
Additional evidence:

FE and SFC inspections 2009-10

Survey of good practice in colleges 2008-9

Phone survey of primaries found not to teach languages in previous inspections

Core outcomes:

Primary-positive general picture

Good or Outstanding in 6 out of 10 schools visited;

High variance skills development-focus on Speaking and Listening;

Knowledge About the Language (KAL)-concept of gender and adjectival agreement put into practice with some confidence;

Intercultural Understanding (IU)-good in most schools;

Primary schools can adopt very creative approaches to develop Intercultural Understanding: they use the internet, skype, dvd and try to get the local communities involved;

A bigger picture of Intercultural Understanding is developed through trips, visits and topics;

Foreign Language Assistants, Trainees from other countries also support the development of language learning.

Out of the 235 lessons observed in primaries, 2/3 were Good or Outstanding.

Languages are reinforced through a drip-feed technique;

Subject knowledge is mostly good although there are still some issues with pronunciation and intonations.

Good support by language specialists: FLAs and other native speakers.

Assessment is satisfactory but emerging evidence show assessment as the weakest area.

Curriculum: model of external language specialist is effective when teacher stays with the language specialist during the lessons.

Schemes used tended to be commercial ones-there can be issues with planning for mixed classes or planning and adapting the commercial resources for the actual curriculum time taught.

The Leadership and Management of PMFL at Primary is usually assumed by a language co-ordinator or the Headteacher themselves.

The rationale for choosing a language is sustainability as a priority.

Transition arrangements to secondary schools are still under-developed.

There can be weaknesses in the monitoring and evaluation of provision especially when senior staff did not feel competent to judge language provision.

More trainees have some language background but Local Authorities are not providing as much support as they did in the past, with many Las not having Languages Consultants any more.
Secondary: KS3 and KS4

Overall the provision for 6 out 10 schools was deemed Good or better.

Students' progress was Good or Outstanding in over half the schools visited.

Listening was found to be impeded by a lack of target language use in class.

Writing was good but could be over-reliant on model practice.

Speaking can be a concern when there were too few opportunities to use the language routinely & spontaneously.

The explicit teaching of language learning strategies has had a positive impact.

Effective pair and group work is key to students’ skills development.

Pace and challenge are essential to keep students on track.

Activities to monitor class progress throughout the lesson are successful in re-focusing students (mini-plenaries)

Exemplification of good practice in the report

Secondary schools are trying to link with primary schools to check about content taught (not achievement levels).

Strong leadership-innovation, use of local networks, effective liaison with primaries and post 16.

There can be inconsistencies in practice, insufficient monitoring, lack of clear policies and priorities for language learning.

Variable access to CPD can be an issue in some schools.

International staff development to be extended-TIPED e.g. research immersion teaching in Canada

Post 16

Progression rate to A level is lower than in other optional subjects (uptake issues).

The challenges:


There is a need to develop students’ early skills in reading and writing;

Clarification of progression through KS2.

Regular use of the Target Language in the classroom;

More use of authentic materials to develop language skills and motivation;

More planning need to be done to ensure smooth transition from KS2;

Increasing the uptake of languages at KS4 is still an issue in the vast majority of schools where languages are not compulsory;
Ensuring that KS4 prepares for KS5 more effectively.

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