The key work for Phase 3 of secondary curriculum support as I see it is to build on the excellent changes we have made to curricula in Year 7 languages into Years 8 and 9, really focusing on linguistic progression, whilst keeping the relevance and freshness of the new contexts, cultural awareness and cross-curriculum links. Arriving just in time to help steer our course in terms of progression is the new framework for languages. As Kathy Wicksteed said: "The new secondary curriculum is the map and the new framework is the route planner"! If you haven't managed (it's only been online since the beginning of this month!) to get to grips with the new framework yet and are putting it off because of all the other urgent priorities, you might find these guidelines from Alison Edwards very useful - a quick guide to accessing the framework.
But equally important seems to be the task of looking ahead from
Year 9 into KS4 and working to ensure that what learners experience is
really 'joined up'. I've talked to a lot of teachers who are fired up
but what they are now teaching at KS3 but concerned that they will need
to return to something much more conservative and less interesting at
KS4. So are we resigned to it being a case of our KS3 learners being
'all linguistically challenged and highly motivated with nowhere to go'
at KS4? Or can we make suitable links between the learning to join
both key stages together (without risking a dip in the all too
important performance indicators)? This is a fairly big question! But I think it's one that we need to address this year.
Trying to make a start on it, I've begun with speaking. Two reasons for this: firstly, it's the skill still highlighted by the most recent and wide-ranging Ofsted report (The changing landscape of languages) as both the least developed in schools nationally and the one most likely to have a significant bearing on learners' motivation. Secondly, the changes that arrive with the new GCSE are greatest in the speaking (and writing) components and if we can therefore start with the types of speaking we are generating in our Year 7 teaching and learning, look forward to the new GCSE speaking tasks and provide a progressive route through from one to the other through Years 8 and 9, then this will have been a good year's work! Sounds easy put like that!
I have only made a tentative start to this. I decided to situate my opportunities for speaking (both planned and spontaneous) in four (hopefully engaging contexts) and design some tasks that would set expectations high in terms of progression in language output as well as continuing to provide real and engaging contexts for that work. Having the new GCSE style speaking tasksin my mind from the outset has also helped in trying to make links between the two key stages.
The four contexts I chose to start with are Talking Pictures (responding to visual stimulus); Story Telling (creating narratives of different types); What's in a song (using responses to music as a stimulus for talk) and Language on Film (exploiting film clips to generate talk, both planned and spontaneous). A few examples of these are downloadable here from the blog. These will definitely be added to over time. I will be working with other schools this year to refine these and create more resources that can be used to help to generate talk at KS3 and KS4 that both enhances enjoyment in language learning and achieves the progression from Year 7 to Year 11 that we aspire to.
(This is where the files will go - uploading NOT WORKING today for some reason!)
If you would like to contribute any resources to this work, please get in touch!
P.S. Curriculum Now (publication with a lot of the new secondary curriculum practice I've been involved in developing) plus materials to download is now available. Click on the flyer to download it.