By the end of Year 6, we want all of our pupils to achieve the targets set out in the KS2 Programme of Study for Languages and our scheme of work is fully aligned with the 2014 National Curriculum.
We expect that during their time at Oaklands Junior the students will have acquired a range of language learning strategies for memorisation and retrieval, as well as for listening, reading and understanding. As part of our focus on the ‘5 pillars of progression for language learning’ (grammar; phonics; vocabulary; culture; songs, rhymes and stories), our aim is that all children will be able to use French phonics when speaking, listening and reading aloud. They will also be able to recognise some of the language patterns of French and how these differ or are similar to English; a full breakdown of our progressive curriculum (skills, knowledge, language) can be found in the appendices below.
At the end of Key Stage 2, our intention is that all pupils will have developed resilience in language learning, as well as an enjoyment of it, through a challenging scheme of work, which will enable them to be able to manipulate language to speak or write sentences creatively, using prior knowledge of grammar features; with and without a bilingual dictionary.
Many of these skills and ways of learning tie in particularly well with our ‘Thinking School’ philosophy as well as our ‘Oaklands’ Mindset’, for example challenge, resilience, communication, enjoyment. Furthermore, the development of these skills and learning behaviours will provide an ideal foundation for continuing the development of their language skills in Key Stage 3 and beyond. During lessons, we aim to create links between their learning on French with their understanding on English – for example in the use of grammatical terms and the development of reading, speaking, listening and writing skills.
Finally, through lessons, ‘special events’ and regular assemblies, our aspiration is that all children will leave our school with a deeper understanding of cultural similarities and differences. We feel that this is particularly pertinent following Brexit and our school’s relative lack of ethnic diversity.
Following the COVID pandemic, we recognise the impact that the lack of face-to-face teaching has had on the children’s progress in French. Although regular lessons were provided as part of our remote learning provision during lockdown, we are aware that we will need to revisit some key concepts from previous year groups. This has been discussed during staff meetings and the subject leader has highlighted some key skills and concepts that need to be revisited by each year group.
The teaching of French is undertaken on a weekly basis by either the class teacher or the other year group teacher. We use the the ‘Cave languages’ scheme of work, which is based on the Catherine Cheater scheme and it is fully aligned with the 2014 National Curriculum. We have supplemented this scheme with an intention based upon the Association for Language Learning’s ‘5 pillars of progression for language learning’ (Grammar. Phonics. Vocabulary. Culture. Songs, Rhymes and Stories).
The lesson plans are designed to be 30 minutes in length and there are follow-up activities to each lesson to increase the exposure time in a week. The lessons are designed to be progressive and build on prior learning, moving from word to sentence level over the four years. They also include ideas for support for the less able and to extend the more able.
The lesson activities are challenging, varied and interactive and develop listening, reading, speaking and writing skills with a particular focus on phonics, which the children practise regularly in lessons. Interactive resources are used in the teaching of phonics which includes the use of native French speakers sounding out the phonics sounds and words to improve pronunciation.
Furthermore, throughout the teaching of French, references are regularly made to grammatical terms and any similarities and differences with the English language (for example adjectival position, determiners, three indefinite articles in French etc.). Interactive whiteboard resources with audio support are provided; additional resources have also been purchased with regards to books, songs and rhymes. The school also has a large number of bi-lingual dictionaries which are used regularly in lessons, again another skill interlinked with the English curriculum.
The choice of vocabulary ensures exposure to all the key phonic sounds and ability to build sentences using grammatical knowledge. In Year 6, the content allows for revisiting and consolidating prior knowledge.
It is expected that formative assessment in each lesson informs the planning and teaching of subsequent lesson plans. Recent staff meeting time has been given to this area.
A detailed breakdown of the curriculum, and what is taught in each year group, can be found in the appendices.
In the past, we had a specialist Teaching Assistant who was responsible for the delivery of French during PPA sessions. However, since her retirement, class teachers have become responsible for teaching French to their own classes, as research indicates that children make better progress when taught by their own class teacher rather than another teacher.
Beyond the classroom
Over the last three years, raising the profile of languages at Oaklands has been a key area of development, as well as the upskilling of class teachers. Since class teachers have taken over teaching French, staff meetings have been run regularly to train the staff on how to use the scheme of work and to continue to improve their confidence and pedagogy.
As well as French lessons, we have also run events such as ‘French Breakfast’ and ‘French Day’. Although these could not take place in the academic year 2020-21, due to the pandemic, these are scheduled to take place again this academic year. These events have always been great successes in the past, both engaging pupils and staff across the school. They created a positive, stimulating environment around the subject, while at the same time promoting cultural appreciation and understanding.
Over the last few years, links with Edgbarrow, our local secondary school and one of the schools within our MAT, have enabled us to give our children the opportunity to experience German sessions. Moreover, in the recent past, we have also had visitors from China who have run Mandarin workshops with some of our children. The link between Oaklands and Edgbarrow continues to develop and discussions are currently taking place about aligning our two curriculums more.
As subject leader, Mr Lee also does regular French assemblies, including some during lockdown. These assemblies were aimed at promoting the French language as well as improving Intercultural Understanding. He also goes into other classes regularly to read stories.
In a wider context, languages and intercultural understanding are also promoted in other areas of the curriculum. For example, children learn Russian during the Y5 ‘Space Day’ and Year 3 & Year 5 children study French artists (Seurat and Rousseau) in art. Similarly, when studying Rome and the Ancient Romans, year 4 children learn about the Italian culture and food as well as some Italian and Latin.
Subject Leadership and Monitoring
As part of his role, Mr Lee undertakes learning walks, scrutinised planning and has arranged training sessions.
At the end of Key Stage 2, all pupils will have developed resilience in language learning, as well as an enjoyment of it.
During their time at Oaklands Junior the students will have acquired a range of language learning strategies for memorisation and retrieval, as well as for listening, reading and understanding.
At the end of Key Stage 2, children will be adept in the following key concepts:
Knowledge – Children will be able to: find meanings in a bi-lingual dictionary; recognise some key French phonics; explain and apply the rules of adjectival agreement with accuracy (orally and in written form).
Understanding – Children will be able to: ask and answer a variety of questions; follow and understand a song or story with more complex language; pronounce some unfamiliar words using phonic knowledge.
Communicating – Children will be able to: say a complex sentence to present own ideas using a bi-lingual dictionary; engage in a short conversation; write sentences using grammatical concepts encountered; write some complex sentences from memory.
Intercultural Understanding – Children will: have a deeper understanding of cultural similarities and differences and be able to explain a wide range of similarities and differences between francophone and anglophone countries and their languages; be more open and aware of other cultures and their positive impact.
Teachers are able to assess impact through activities which give an opportunity to assess progress and the activities are linked to the KS2 targets and the afore-mentioned key concepts.
In terms of subject leadership, impact is measured through learning walks, book scrutinies, and pupil voice conferences. As part of his subject leader role, Mr Lee completes annual learning walks, book and ‘End of unit workbook’ scrutinies, and pupil voice conferences. He also uses these to further understand the strengths and areas of development within our current provision for the teaching of French. As a result, he presently planning a ‘Conversational French’ unit for all year groups to use (with appropriate progression) in the summer term. This will also include lessons related to vocabulary and phrases that the children can use during ‘French Day’ and ‘French Breakfast’.
Teacher confidence about their skills and knowledge in French continues to be an area that needs to be developed. This academic year, the subject leader will hold several training sessions during staff meeting time and do some team teaching with teachers that have expressed a lack of confidence. Furthermore, staff training will also continue on focus on how to improve teachers’ ability to assess and help the children to progress in their written and oral communication.
OFSTED visit 2022
In April 2022, OFSTED undertook an inspection and confirmed that Oaklands Junior School continues to be a good school. Some quotes from the report about curriculum include:
- Leaders are refining their ambitious curriculum for pupils. The ‘Thinking Curriculum’ focuses on developing thinking skills to enable pupils to learn something in one subject and then apply that knowledge in another.
- Learning is well planned. Themes such as Egyptians in Year 3 bring together learning in physical education, art and design and technology. This helps pupils make links, and enriches their learning experience.
- The curriculum promotes topics that capture the imagination of pupils and inspire creativity. Teachers plan topics carefully so that pupils can link different areas of learning.
Staff refresher training is a key focus for this academic year, to continue to develop our staff’s pedagogy and confidence in the teaching of French. Furthermore, as part of the whole school curriculum development plan, staff meeting time during 2022-23 will be given to look at progression and assessment of the progression of skills during the children’s time at Oaklands Junior School.