Sunday, 25 November 2012

SSAT Conference 2012 (4) Tim Crapper & Richard O’Driscoll,

‘Ofsted outstanding in MFL 2012

Tim Crapper, Head of French  & Richard O’Driscoll, Head of Spanish, Aylesbury Grammar School for boys

Tim and Richard modestly took us through some of the elements which secured a judgement of ‘outstanding’ from a recent OFSTED inspection led by the Lead Inspector for languages, Elaine Taylor.  I thoroughly recommend people to hear them if ever they get the chance. I have already asked them to come to talk at a future ALL London event!

They started with a most encouraging comment: ‘the normal can be outstanding’.  I’m listing a summary of what they said, and although they were very open about the fact that these things worked particularly for them in their school with able boys, I am sure that many elements can be replicated in all schools.  However, I am not so sure that it would be as easy for everyone to acquire their apparently effortless and natural  understated sense of humour and appreciation of 'things random'!!  Their students are lucky to have them as teachers!
  1. Breadth of Curriculum
·         support by SMT design of a strong option model
·         push for 2 MFL at GCSE
·         encourage minority languages
·         create a virtuous circle (it is ’natural to do a language’
·         work with partners (e.g. in HE)

2.  Maintaining take-up.  Strong support and leadership from SMT
·         Options system (no competitive recruitment needed – all languages support each other)
·         Options booklet positively encourages more than one language
·         Language assistants employed
·         Subject talks done in lessons to encourage take-up
·         Deliberately and explicitly teaching way beyond the scheme of work to give a ‘taster’
·         A parents evening for Y11 to encourage support from parents
·         Displays
·         Curriculum time (3 hours per language over a 12 week period)

3. Active and productive language skills
·         Focus on writing and speaking – pupils given longer to produce language – creative, imaginative, showing progression.  Introduce structure for writing: minimum word limit.  Teacher spends longer marking fewer pieces – much ‘bigger deal’ when work returned
·         Display of good work
·         Arrange for SMT to congratulate classes working well ( a good essay as worthwhile as pleasing exam results)
·         Praise and reward with small gifts (pleasure of a 15 cm ruler …!)
·         Visualisers: to share work, encourage, leads to spontaneous rounds of applause (so genuinely ‘OK’ to do well – achievement not embarrassing)

5. Class Activities

  • Scooter game in the time it takes for the music to finish, challenge is to create a crossword across the board with words called out
  • speed-dating (produce video)
  • extended writing on topic which interests them (example of a 15-page piece on Spanish food!)
  • Sixth form: creating trailers for films etc
5. Motivating Boys

  • Speak against the clock
  • Games
  • Anything random / bizarre (yet trying to avoid the extreme and the violent (!))
  • Adopt a role (avoid talking about yourself)
  • Languages ‘Food Fair’
6        Create a ‘buzz’

  • Teacher overt as a ‘language learner’ (e.g learning a new language – sponsored – challenge to test teacher on vocab list of new language!)
  • Use Twitter – be followed on Twitter @AGSFrench @AGSSpanish
  • Assemblies about languages arousing curiosity about words and message of importance pf languages
7        Visits, events, conferences

  • KS3 Trips (Present prizes in assembly; Display authentic resources in room
  • KS4& 5 Exchanges
  • KS5 study visit
  • In-school activities for all (Visit to Spanish restaurant; Sports and languages day; Double club; Y7 Bastille celebration Day; Anything linked to food  [quote of the day for me: ‘they are just basically eating machines’ …!!!!]
  • Gifted and talented activities (Created land where three languages spoken: F/G/S); language conference; extension classes e.g. on the historic background of a period; invite lecturer of HE; film-making club – currently making a zombie/ghost film where the zombie speaks French and the ghost speaks Spanish)
An absolutely fantastic talk.  Thanks so much for sharing AGS! 

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