Aim: To use wider extracurricular provision to inspire pupils from all backgrounds to embrace deep subject knowledge and become passionate about their learning, to raise the profile of Languages, improve exam results and increase take-up at Key Stage 5 and beyond.
Background: Historically, Gordon’s had very small numbers of students taking languages at A Level, and there were few extracurricular activities or trips abroad.
A baseline questionnaire asked staff and students about their enjoyment of the subject and extracurricular provision, and what they would like to see as extra provision. Although 79% of students said they enjoyed Languages lessons, this was not reflected in KS5 uptake. Extracurricular activities were run, including a Languages day at Wellington College and trips for all three languages. Feedback was very encouraging and lessons were learned to ensure future trips gave students the best possible experiences.
Uptake at AS and A Level improved and was at an all-time high in French. Student surveys showed that the number of students enjoying their Languages lessons had increased to 84%. Participation in extracurricular activities rose, with another successful trip to Wellington and successful French and German exchanges. Students also learned Mandarin after school, and a trip to Shanghai gave them an insight into a completely different language and culture.
Spanish A Level uptake increased significantly and French numbers remained high. Results were also high, and the implementation of NVQ level 1 and 2 helped to increase motivation for lower-ability students in KS4. The French department engaged and challenged students with short story learning packs, the film Intouchables and a topic on the French Resistance. The number of students enjoying Languages rose to 90%, and trips and extracurricular activities continued to prove popular and increase enthusiasm for all.
Evidence: Student surveys, exam results, uptake level.
Impact: Verbal feedback and lesson observations attest to the success of making lessons more enjoyable with a focus on culture as well as the language itself. Trips across all three languages have been successful and well attended, and uptake at KS5 has improved significantly for French and Spanish, while remaining steady in German.
Reflections: There were some constraints on the project. Some staff were uncomfortable with asking students to assess their enjoyment of their lessons, and having Languages split into three separate departments has made consistency a challenge.
However, it is clear that the increased provision of extracurricular activities has had a positive impact, both in results and subsequent uptake and also in student enjoyment. All three Language departments are flourishing. Whilst this was, to an extent, to be expected, the impact on KS5 student numbers has been particularly profound.
Contact: Megan Cottam, Head of French, firstname.lastname@example.org