CFBT EDUCATION TRUST RESEARCH ON LANGUAGES IN SCHOOLS
More take-up of languages in schools since the Ebacc introduced
Language teaching a reality in high proportion of Primary schools
But wide spectrum of practice and inconsistency and discontinuity between Primary and Secondary schools
CfBT Education Trust, on 20 March, published the results of national surveys of primary and secondary schools, revealing the multiple challenges for languages within the new English National Curriculum.
The ‘Language Trends’ report shows that while foreign language teaching is already a reality in most primary schools, there is a very wide spectrum of practice and a lack of consistency in both approach and outcomes. Teachers need further training and support as the subject becomes statutory in September 2014, particularly in those schools where provision is currently least developed. However, on a positive note, schools in England have been encouraging more teenagers to take up languages since the introduction of the English Baccalaureate league table measure, the report suggests.
The report reveals a disconnect between the primary and secondary systems which means that the vast majority of pupils do not experience continuity and progression as they move from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. Secondary schools cannot cope with the diversity of pupils’ language learning experiences in Key Stage 2, and it is not on their agendas to do so.
Teachers of languages in both independent and state schools would welcome reforms to GCSE and A level examinations which would encourage steady progression in the acquisition of language skills and improve pupil motivation. They would like to see wider recognition of the value of language learning as an essential tool for success in the modern workplace. On the evidence here, teachers would welcome a return to externally assessed final exams at both GCSE and A level. They would like to see changes which measure and encourage steady progression in the development of linguistic skills and their practical use in a range of contexts.
At 50% of state-funded secondaries, at least half of older pupils are now taking a foreign language GCSE. In 2010, this was the case in 38% of schools. However , it might be the case that anti-European sentiment may be turning teenagers off modern foreign languages.
There is some evidence an “erroneous” view that languages such as French and German are no longer useful when, in fact, they are still needed in the workplace, according to the language specialist Teresa Tinsley, who co-authored the report.
Tinsley acknowledged that current “anti-European discourse” is not helping the issue, She said that entries for A-level French and German fell by more than half between 1996 and 2012. There has also been a decline in students taking these subjects at GCSE. “Entries for GCSE in Spanish and other foreign languages continue to rise, but not in sufficient number to compensate for the decline in French and German.” Tinsley added that the falls in French may be more obvious because it is a widely studied language. “It is possible that because French is the most commonly taken language, when you get a drop-off it affects these languages in the frontline more.” Tinsley said she understood the popularity of Spanish. “I think there’s a perception that French and German are not useful in the global economy, which is a totally erroneous perception. “All the information shows that the languages that are most needed in the workplace are French and German and I think there is an erroneous perception that because Spanish is a global language, it is therefore going to be more useful – but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the structure of our economy and the trading links that we have. “I think that the rhetoric and the discourse around Europe and the anti-European discourse is not helpful for languages.”
The report’s co-author, Kathryn Board, added: “I would say, from a perception point of view, that when you look at society in general in this country and you see that pupils are not motivated to learn languages, parents are not motivating their children to learn languages and generally, we’ve got a society that doesn’t recognise the value of languages, when you get a rhetoric in the media on a daily basis that feels anti-European, anti-eurozone, one might assume, over time, that it underlines an already unfavourable feeling about languages.”
Tony McAleavy, Director of Education at CfBT, said:
“A recent international study showed that English pupils were significantly behind their international peers in terms of foreign language learning. If we are to turn this situation around, we must capture the opportunity provided by the introduction of foreign languages into the primary curriculum, linked to the aspiration for improved standards in the reformed GCSE and A levels’.”
The report concluded that ‘This survey provides the first nationwide evidence on the situation of languages in primary schools since 2008 and shows that, despite anecdotal reports of a reduction in provision during the period of this government’s national curriculum review, language teaching is now a reality in a very high proportion of primary schools. Although 97% of respondents reported that they are teaching a language, this may be an overestimation of the national picture, in that primary schools not teaching a language may have been less inclined to reply. Nonetheless, the survey achieved a high volume of responses and clearly shows that languages are firmly on the agenda in primary schools. However, the report provides evidence of a very wide spectrum of practice and a lack of consistency between schools both in their approach to language teaching and in the outcomes they achieve. There is a strongly expressed need – as well as evidence of an implicit need – for further training and support, particularly for those schools without expertise or commitment to the notion of language teaching in primary schools’.
The report states ‘Following the introduction of the EBacc ,as a performance measure, an increasing number of schools report that the number of students taking languages at KS4 has risen. Among the changes made, many schools have made languages compulsory or highly recommended for some pupils. The figures suggest that most able pupils are now engaging – willingly or not – in language learning. However, there is a dearth of provision for less ‘academic’ pupils and no incentive for schools to provide this.’
Only 11% of state secondary schools have arrangements which allow all pupils to continue with the same language learnt in primary school. Secondary schools cannot cope with the diversity of pupils’ language learning experiences in KS2, and it is not on their agendas to do so. A perception of excessive disparity and diversity in language provision in primary schools – and, indeed, the reality in many cases – is leading secondary schools to dismiss the value of what has been learnt and to ‘start at the beginning again’.
Language learning in primary and secondary schools in England-Findings from the 2012 Language Trends survey – Teresa Tinley and Kathryn Board-CFBT Education Trust-March 2013
Ofsted may adjust its framework this September giving careers advice a priority
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector, has given the strongest indication yet that schools’ careers provision could be formally inspected as part of Ofsted’s framework from September.
While inspectors take into account the extent to which “pupils have gained a well-informed understanding” of the career options available to them, there is no separate grade for careers provision. As a result, critics have warned that schools are not being adequately monitored to ensure they comply with their statutory duty to provide pupils with impartial and objective advice on qualifications and pathways into training, further and higher education and work. Ofsted is, however, undertaking a ‘thematic’ review of careers advice in schools. Early signs, though, are that the quality and scope of careers advice now on offer in schools varies dramatically.
Appearing before the Commons Education Select Committee on 13 February, Sir Michael stressed the need to “recalibrate the schools framework to focus more on careers advice”.
“It’s really important that impartial advice is given to students on progression routes and I’m not sure that’s the case,” he told MPs. “In our adjustment to our inspection framework from September we will give the inspection of careers advice a priority.”
The Full exchange- Education Select Committee Hearing 13 February:
Q27 Pat Glass: Can I move off the agenda slightly and ask you a different question? When Matthew Hancock, the Minister, appeared before us recently, we were looking at careers advice and guidance, and he said he was looking to Ofsted to inspect and monitor that. I pointed out that Ofsted had said very clearly that they did not see it as their role to inspect the statutory duty in schools, and asked him if he was going to have a word with you. Has he had a word with you about it?
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Matthew might want to come in here. My view is that it is a good idea to devolve this funding to schools.
Q28 Pat Glass: There is no funding being devolved to schools; the only thing that is being devolved is the statutory duty.
Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. It is important that we do monitor it effectively. It is really important that impartial advice is given to students on progression routes, and I am not sure that is the case. In our adjustment to our inspection framework from September, we will give the inspection of careers advice a priority.
An Ofsted spokeswoman later qualified Sir Michaels remarks, telling the TES (22 February) that the watchdog would not make a final decision on whether to give careers greater prominence in school inspection reports until the summer. “We will draw on the findings of the Ofsted thematic survey, due to be published in the summer, and consider if any changes are required to its inspection frameworks,” she said.
The Government recently announced that schools careers duty will be extended to years 8 to 13 from September 2013
Autonomy important but so is collaboration and interdependence
Andreas Schleicher, from the OECD, was at the public launch last week of the Academies Commission report and for a subsequent academic seminar. Schleicher sought to place the report into an international context. Yes, he said, the world’s best school systems are those with high levels of school autonomy. But he also pointed out, some of the world’s worst school systems are those with high levels of school autonomy. Autonomy, in short, is no guarantee of success. Autonomy delivers quality only where independence is accompanied by an incentive system and a culture which embeds collaboration and so engenders school inter-dependence.
Professor Chris Husbands, one of the report’s authors, remarked on a striking phrase at the launch from Schleicher who said ‘ “knowledge in education is sticky” – it does not move around the system. So arguably the challenge posed by the Academies Commission is how an autonomous school system can build knowledge about success. Husbands says “We will not achieve the vision success for all if academisation simply produced archipelagos of excellence. One of the report’s recommendations is that no school should be eligible for an Ofsted “outstanding” rating for leadership unless it can demonstrate success in helping other schools to improve. This, at least, would incentivise collaboration.”
The importance of schools helping each other to improve is not, of course, a new idea. Academies and new Free schools are supposed to demonstrate how they will work with other schools to improve outcomes.This is whats termed a self-improving school system. Back in 2010, Steve Munby, then head of the National College for School Leadership, (now the Chief Executive of CFBT Education Trust) said “ I believe that school to school support is central to the future of school improvement. We have clear evidence that this approach not only achieves improvement where it is needed but also raises the bar at all levels of our system”
On the autonomy issue Harry Patrinos, the lead education economist at the World Bank group has some interesting observations. In a blog on the OECD findings last year he wrote:
‘students tend to perform better in countries where schools have greater autonomy over what is taught and how students are assessed. Similarly, schools that enjoy greater autonomy in resource allocation tend to show better student performance than those with less autonomy. However, interestingly enough, in countries where there are no such accountability arrangements, schools with greater autonomy in resource allocation tend to perform worse.’ So Patrinos is stressing that autonomous schools must be embedded within a meaningful accountability framework to improve outcomes. He continued ‘ We find that it is the alignment between autonomy and accountability that is important, and not necessarily the levels of education system development that are important in explaining superior academic performance,.. It is not autonomy on its own – or in any way accountability on its own – that produces superior results’.
We have written before about the Finnish education system , and why it is so successful. Finnish schools receive full autonomy in developing the daily delivery of education services. The ministry of education believes that teachers, together with principals, parents and their communities know how to provide the best possible education for their children and youth. Except for guidelines for learning goals and assessment criteria, The National Board of Education (taking care of curriculum development, evaluation of education and professional support for teachers) doesn’t dictate lesson plans or standardized tests. School can plan their own curricula to reflect local concerns. But they also collaborate closely too.Finnish educators have been keen to find ways to help schools and teachers come together and share what they have learned about productive teaching techniques and effective schools. This has resulted in the creation of multi-level, professional ’learning communities’ of schools sharing locally tested practices and enriching ideas, and matching the needs for local economic development
WHAT ARE ACADEMIES OBLIGED TO TEACH?
Academies and Free schools do not have to follow the national curriculum. But… and its quite a big but..
‘Academies must teach a broad and balanced curriculum’, and there are a number of statutory and other requirements.
Key statutory requirements
‘Academies are required to have a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.’
For pupils below key stage 1 (i.e. reception and nursery), academies are required to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Summary of requirements under the funding agreement
While academies are not required to follow the National Curriculum they are required to ensure their curriculum:
includes English, maths and science;
includes Religious Education, although the nature of this will depend on whether the school has a faith designation;
secures access to independent, impartial careers advice for pupils in years 9-11; and
includes sex and relationship education (SRE).
Academies are required to take part in the following assessments:
Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (in reception);
Teacher assessments at Key Stage 1;
National tests at Key Stage 2;
Teacher assessments at Key Stage 3; and
All relevant monitoring arrangements as prescribed by the Secretary of State.
Are the curriculum requirements the same for all academies?
No. ‘Prior to September 2010, some funding agreements required academies to follow the National Curriculum Programmes of Study in English, maths and science (and in some cases ICT). We (DFE) will be writing to those academies to say that we will not enforce those contractual provisions.’
(I assume that the DFE has already informed the relevant academies about this)
Source Academy Curriculum Fact Sheet, DFE, up dated December 2012
Remember, Academies and Free schools are ‘autonomous’ in the sense that they have certain freedoms, over the curriculum, pay, etc and are ‘freed’ from local authority bureaucracy but each school, nonetheless, is subject to a Funding Agreement with the DFE . The funding agreements are essentially contracts between the Secretary of State and the organisation which establishes and runs the school ( ie ‘the academy trust’) . This varies between schools. So Academies are still subject to central controls, and, of course, Ofsted inspections. Although Lord Adonis wanted the DNA of independent schools transferred to academies it would be something of a challenge to argue that academies are as autonomous or ‘free’ as independent schools. Could, for example, the Secretary of State object to the appointment of a governor in an independent school? I think not.
Academies are charities run by an academy trust. But they are what is termed ’ exempt ‘charities. So , rather than being regulated by the independent Charities Commission they are regulated by the Secretary of State . Indeed, the Secretary of State prescribes membership of the trustee body in some detail. So’“exempt” charities in this case at least may be operating in an even more regulated and much more highly politicised environment than is the case for conventional charities
Free school meals
16% of pupils in secondary schools eligible for Free School Meals-19% in Primaries
Research from the DfE on the take-up of free school meals will be published shortly. Information on the number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals as at January 2012 is published in the Statistical First Release ‘Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics, January 2012′ available at:
Free school meal eligibility
• In maintained nursery, state-funded primary, state-funded secondary, special schools and pupil referral units 18.2 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, compared to 18.0 per cent in 2011.
• In maintained nursery and state-funded primary schools 19.3 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, an increase from 19.2 per cent in 2011. (Table 3b)
• In state-funded secondary schools 16.0 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, an increase from 15.9 per cent in 2011. (Table 3b)
• In special schools 37.5 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, an increase from 36.5 per cent in 2011. (Table
• In pupil referral units 36.7 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, an increase from 34.6 per cent in 2011. (Table
Note- Students who meet eligibility requirements can claim free school meals if they attend school sixth forms, academies, university technical colleges or free schools, but their contemporaries at sixth-form colleges and further education colleges cannot. Fair? Not really.
Deposited Paper- 2012-1607 -Department for Education
Table showing the number of boys known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals in Read more
LORD ADONIS –EDUCATION, EDUCATION ,EDUCATION
Adonis proposes a reform agenda
When Andrew Adonis first looked at City Technology Colleges, the first schools to be outside local government control, he liked what he saw. He found that they were “fundamentally different and better than grammar schools, secondary moderns and local authority comprehensives”. He was inspired by visiting the Telford CTC run by Kevin Satchwell and the Harris Academy in London where he saw an ethos created by the sponsors determined to abolish low expectation and dismal performance .To his alarm he found that “across much of England, comprehensives were seriously failing”. A former journalist, Adonis , himself from a disadvantaged background, realised , how a good school and high quality teachers could transform pupils lives, regardless of background. As a key adviser to Tony Blair he developed the idea of Academies, free from local authority control and with a measure of independence. What Adonis grasped is that if you want to change anything for the better in Britain it’s probably best not to waste too much time trying to reform existing institutions, for that leads to a battle against inertia and a reverence for the status quo, but instead to create a new institution to show how much better it could be. As Lord Baker has pointed out Adonis’s policy was not to bring back selection for academies since that would lead again in his opinion to a morass of poor secondary moderns. The test was to make the all-ability school better. Getting outside sponsors in to re-launch schools seemed like a good idea to enable a fresh start. But it wanst easy and he invested much personal time and effort trying to matchmake.
By 2002 the first three academies had opened. One of Blair’s last acts in 2006, before stepping down as prime minister, to make way for Gordon Brown the following year, was to announce a target of 400. Brown, however, was less attracted to the idea, in Adonis’s opinion because the idea was too closely associated with Blair.(the dysfunctional relationship between Blair and Brown served to limit many of the public service reforms that Blair wanted).
Much of his newly launched book Education, Education, Education is a manifesto for what remains to be done. He wants, for example, every private school and university to agree to sponsor a failing comprehensive — something he regards as a moral duty, because it “could do more than any other policy in building a one-nation society and bridging class barriers”.(When politicians speak of moral duties and responsibilities many people, for good reason, switch off-its surely better to stress the mutual benefits that accrue.) Crucially, he also wants to weed out bad teachers. “No school can be better than its teachers,” he says. “The reinvention of teaching, to make it the country’s foremost profession, is the next imperative.“ Teaching is still barely a selective profession in England, with an average of only two applicants per teacher training place compared with 10 or more in Finland, Singapore and South Korea, which have the best education systems. ”We also need to pay new teachers in maths and science far more — I propose a starting salary of £35,000 [and £30,000 outside London] in return for an end to automatic increments thereafter.” Adonis wants to see an expansion of Teach First, by which highly qualified graduates are attracted to teaching – 5,000 by 2020 – and he also wants to see a technical baccalaureate alongside the EBacc; as well as the reform of technical education which we have made such a hash of for more than 100 years. He strongly supports the first step along this road with the new UTCs – the employer-led and university-supported 14-18 technical colleges. But he is silent as to whether GCSEs at 16 will be necessary when the school leaving age increases to 18 in 2015. Adonis has many fans who might be relieved to hear that he is working on Labour’s next manifesto, alongside Jon Cruddas, the party’s bright policy chief.
Not everyone though believes that his academies scheme is some kind of panacea. They point out that, certainly initially, Academies were among the worst offenders in exaggerating their improved academic performance through clever manipulation of soft options and GCSE equivalents. If you take that into account, their progress is not that much different from other state schools, the argument goes. Chris Woodhead plays down Adonis’s significance and makes a fair point that academies are not nearly as independent as politicians would have us believe. They are ,of course, subject to all sorts of regulations and bureaucracy imposed from the centre, and have to sign a Funding agreement, with DFE, which limits their independence. Woodhead wrote in the Sunday Times a couple of weeks ago ‘A school that depends upon the Department for Education for its funding and that is not permitted to decide its own admissions policies is not an independent school. Academies are schools that have chosen national over local government control.’ There is also some evidence that Academies are not varying their curriculum much, one of their key new freedoms. However, this government is entirely committed to the Academies scheme, so much so that a majority of secondary schools are now academies and the government can produce figures that indicate their improvement is faster than other schools. Few doubt the influence that Adonis has had on the education landscape or his commitment to social mobility and improving educational opportunity .
His book is really of most value in terms of looking to the future and what is needed to sustain progress in our education system and to build on the Blair/Adonis legacy.
Note- 54 per cent of secondary schools are either already academies or in the pipeline to become academies and there are 1.7 million pupils currently being educated in academies
- PAYING FOR RESULTS-CAN IT HELP RAISE PERFORMANCE- OR DOES IT CORRUPT THE LOVE OF LEARNING?
- PROSPECTS JOINS MUTUAL JOINT VENTURE TO DELIVER PUBLIC SERVICES-GOVERNMENT KEEN ON EMPLOYEE OWNED MUTUALS DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES
- PROFESSOR TONY WATTS RESIGNS FROM THE NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL
- EDISON LEARNING AND THE NAHT UNION LAUNCH A SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE WITH DFE BACKING
- THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF ACADEMIES-WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CONCERNS?
- PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON ACADEMIES-SOME CONCERNS OVER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- CAIRNS OF BRIGHTON COLLEGE BACKS ACADEMIES
- IS CAREERS ADVICE IN SCHOOLS EFFECTIVE OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY?
- LEMOVS TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION -TOP TECHNIQUES USED BY THE BEST TEACHERS
- THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
- EDUCATION EXPORTS-NEW GOVERNMENT STRATEGY IN THE WINGS?
- INSPECTING ACADEMY CHAINS-ON THE AGENDA
- Careers advice and Guidance
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