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En MFL overview_landscape


									                                                             National Context for Language Learning in England
                                                             History needed in order to understand our current position!

Area             pre-1988                      MFL Issues                     1988                        MFL issues                 1997 onwards              MFL issues
Curriculum       School autonomy               some good practice            Prescribed National         Primary:                   Curriculum 2000:           Both GCSE and AS
                 regarding curriculum:         from enthusiasts               Curriculum.                  Many primaries           1. GCSE specifications    more demanding.
                 Status of MFL depends                                        Primary: MFL not            dropped MFL in order       standardised; increased    AS not popular
                 on the School                  Inequality of access         included;                   to concentrate on core     emphasis on grammar
                                               to MFL curriculum:             Secondary: MFL              subjects                   2. AS level introduced–
                                               typically, less able did       compulsory 11-16                                       intention to promote
                                               not do MFL                                                 Secondary:                 more doing MFL post
                                                                                                          Equal access to           16
                                                                                                          curriculum                 14-19: (2004)              Decrease in
                                                                                                          MFL status as core        MFL optional post 14      numbers doing MFL
                                                                                                          subject                                              post 14 (and likely to
                                                                                                           Teacher shortage                                   impact on 16, and 18)
                                                                                                                                                                Less teacher
                                                                                                                                                               shortage – better
                                                                                                                                                               quality teachers
Assessment       Testing at 16 (GCSE)           tests mainly aimed           Progressive                 Primary:                   Curriculum 2000 first      Grades awarded for
                 & 18 (A level)                at high ability pupils         introduction of              Pressure on other        testing in 2003: MFL      GCSE and AS even
                                                                              National Testing at 7,      subjects justified                                   lower than previously.
                                                                              11, 14, (NC levels) and     dropping MFL in many       National issue re:         pupils & managers
                                                                              17 (AS) in addition to      schools                    ‘Standards’.              keen to drop MFL to
                                                                              existing 16 (GCSE)          Secondary:                                           help overall statistics
                                                                              and 18 (A level).           Increased focus on        Re-marking led to
                                                                                                          progression &              ‘Tomlinson inquiry
                                                                                     No MFL testing at   continuity at an earlier   14-19’
                                                                                      7, 11               stage
                                                                                     MFL compulsory       public perception
                                                                                      for 14 & 16         that MFL is ‘hard’ as
                                                                                     MFL optional for    grades consistently
                                                                                      17 & 18             lower than other

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Area          pre-1988                  MFL Issues               1988                       MFL issues                1997 onwards               MFL issues
Training      Initial: No common                                 Common descriptors;         more practical          Competence in               could disadvantage
/T&L          policies; usually equal                            increased emphasis on      preparation               Literacy, Numeracy &       native speakers
              emphasis on theory and                             practice over theory        less secure             ICT required
              practice (30% teaching                             (60% on classroom)         theoretical
              practice in classroom)                                                        underpinning
                                                                 GTP graduate teacher        increased chance of     Trialling use of non-      possible MFL
                                                                 programme:                 recruiting MFL staff      qualified teachers to      technical assistance for
                                                                 opportunity to train ‘on    less well-trained       support. Could include     non-specialist qualified
                                                                 the job’                   staff                     native speakers            teachers
              CPD: LEA - led            / dependent on         CPD: School-led            / dependent on          Strategies: High quality    School freedom to
                                        quality of LEA advisor                              commitment of school      training resources         choose best means of
                                        opportunity for                                    to training               provided by DfES           training
                                        sharing good practice                                schools choose best                                 danger of ignoring
                                        with local schools                                  trainers                                             resources available
Authority &   LEA control of            good resources from     LMS gives massive           No accountability       Political strategy:        Short-term:
Finance       finances; schools have    authorities with well    autonomy to schools;       for sharing good          ‘Education, Education,      Primary higher
              little autonomy over      developed language       e.g. budgets of £3m for    practice across schools   Education’ (Tony           status of MFL
              finances                  teams                    school of 1500 to           / LEA power            Blair): increased           Secondary reduced
                                         no compulsion to       employ and deploy          reduced                   funding for national       status
                                        provide MFL support      staff / manage                                       initiatives. Principle
                                                                 resources /                                          initiatives affecting      Long-term:
                                                                 accommodation                                        MFL: Primary Literacy       Higher status for
                                                                 LEA unable to enforce                                & Numeracy; KS3            MFL in the context of
                                                                 intervention e.g. by                                 MFL Framework; ICT;        ‘Lifelong Learning’
                                                                 deploying MFL staff to                               National Language
                                                                 schools in need.                                     Strategy
                                                                 Specialist Schools          Local school            Specialist Schools          effective networking
                                                                 introduced – extra         accountability for        continued: increased       between professionals
                                                                 capital to some schools    developing good           emphasis on                ‘on the ground’
                                                                                            practice                  requirement to share        No real
                                                                                             danger of increased     good practice              accountability for
                                                                                            selection and negative                               equal sharing of
                                                                                            impact on non-                                       resources
                                                                                            specialist neighbouring
                                                                                                                      Teacher shortage            increased pay
                                                                                                                                                  funding crisis in

Area          pre-1988                  MFL Issues                 1988                        MFL issues                 1997 onwards          MFL issues
Accountabil   HMI Inspectors; tended    highly regarded           (1) National League         Primary:                   Value-added measure    fairer judgements
ity           to be ‘thematic’ rather   professional               Tables published             Schools prioritise       added                  becomes
              than whole-school         inspectorate with a        Primary: no MFL             subjects which will be                           ‘complicated to
                                        duty to advise schools     (KS1 tests Maths &          reported; MFL low                                understand’
                                        on how to improve          Science; KS2 tests          priority
                                         apparently random        English, Maths              Secondary:
                                        inspections – lacked       &Science)                    Schools concerned
                                        rigour / equality across   Secondary: MFL              that MFL results ‘drag
                                        all schools                grades consistently         down’ overall results
                                         /  reports not          lower than other
                                        published                  subjects
                                                                   (2) OFSTED                   useful guidance on
                                                                   inspections published       good practice –
                                                                                               checklists and grids in
                                                                                               Inspector’s Handbook
                                                                                               & summary reports
                                                                                                ‘Big stick’ to ensure
                                                                                               policies put into
                                                                                                Judgmental rather
                                                                                               than developmental on
                                                                                               teacher individual level
                                                                                               – no follow-up
                                                                                               Public criticism of
                                                                                               schools and staff:
                                                                                               teachers forced to
                                                                                               leave; schools put into
                                                                                               ‘special measures’
                                                                                               MFL has not had
                                                                                               good reports in general

                   Detail concerning key current strategies which affect MFL

(1) Primary Literacy & Numeracy – an                reduced time for other subjects
hour a day for each
(2) KS3 MFL Framework – planning for                Good structure underpinned by sound pedagogy
introducing 5 strands: Word, Sentence,              does not match GCSE assessment yet
Text, Speaking & Listening, Culture                 criticism of lack of funding for training
(3) ICT – massive spending on                       where schools have used funds appropriately
infrastructure, software and training               where schools have not used funding appropriately
(Curriculum on-line)
(4) National Languages Strategy:
‘Languages for All: Languages for Life. 3
overarching objectives:

1. Improve the T&L of languages (school             where staff available & funding provided for training e.g. 19 Pilot
focused, especially primaries, secondaries         LEAs & Language Colleges –
not highlighted in the strategy - ‘languages        support for the strategy even where funding not yet available (50%
entitlement post-14’; plans to provide             take-up already)
primary MFL entitlement by 2010                      teacher supply already better – good take-up of primary placements
                                                   and teaching assistant posts – possible redeployment from secondary
                                                   to primary
                                                    quality KS2 framework (oracy, literacy, intercultural)
                                                    E-learning may improve popularity and effectiveness of T&L
                                                    Promotion of CLIP / CLIL
                                                    Active support for promoting languages

                                                    where recruitment difficult / training unavailable
                                                    secondaries not highlighted in the strategy – has allowed optional
                                                   MFL post 14
2. Overarching national recognition system          Allows feeling of success for separate skills, at any age
- ‘Languages Ladder’ – celebrating,                 Comparability with European Framework
measuring, supporting – ‘Can do’                    Does not have currency in National League Tables
statements                                          Criticism that the Common European Framework could have been
3. Increase number of people studying               Short term problem: 14-19 changes have made it easier for people
languages (not in school)                          to drop out of MFL learning
                                                    Increased interest in MFL as subsidiary course at HE
                                                    Long-term chances if primary initiative replicable, sustainable and
                                                   recognition system valued.
                                                    Funding available for projects to include adults

Summary of key issues for which we are seeking solutions:

What methods / resources can be used to make MFL attractive to adolescents? (especially 14+)
ASSESSMENT: How can below-average / average pupils be assessed positively and fairly?

Summary of key areas where we can perhaps offer solutions:

T&L: Use of ICT
How can non-specialist teachers be supported in delivering MFL to primaries?
How can best practice be shared between busy teachers?

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Key features of MFL teaching in England which may differ from those teaching English
 Accountability structure within system which has many exams (7, 11, 14 ,16, 17, 18) and
   systems of public accountability (league tables & OFSTED)
 Variety of MFL taught – no obvious ‘common’ MFL (our perception that English = main
   MFL for other countries)
 Comparatively low status of MFL – not perceived as highly marketable skill (possible to get
   highly paid jobs without MFL) – this is a big issue for young people and their parents when
   selecting subjects for study or participating in exchanges etc
 Comparatively little exposure to MFL outside the classroom (e.g. films, pop music all in


A Level       Advanced Level
AS            Advanced Supplementary
CPD           Continual Professional Development
GCSE          General Certificate of Secondary Education
GTP           Graduate Trainee Programme
HE            Higher Education
INSET         In-service Training
ICT           Information & Communications Technology
ITT           Initial Teacher Training
KS            Key Stage
LEA           Local Education Authority (Government)
LMS           Local Management of Schools
MFL           Modern Foreign Languages
NVQ           National Vocational Qualification
OFSTED        Office for Standards in Education
T&L           Teaching and Learning

Primary schools for pupils aged 5-11
Secondary schools for pupils aged 11-18


39% of fifteen year old pupils taking a foreign language in 2002 achieved grades A* -C
11% of 16-18 year olds chose to take a language A level in 2002
2% of undergraduates were studying a language in 2001/02.


The National Languages Strategy, Languages for All – Languages for Life: A Strategy for
England was published on 18 December 2002. The document outlined the commitment to
establish a number of Key Stage 2 Language Pathfinders, based on LEAs and schools working
together. The document can be downloaded from or
obtained from: DfES Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood Park, Annesley, Nottingham, NG15
0DJ. Telephone: 0845 6022260 Fax: 0845 6033360.

National Curriculum etc etc

                            Current situation (September 2004)
                      Key examination years indicted in shaded cells.

Age     Stage                     Year              National Tests               MFL
3/4     Foundation
4/5                                R
5/6     Key Stage 1                 1
6/7                                 2          English & Maths
7/8     Key Stage 2                 3                                      By 2010:
8/9                                 4                                      Optional /
9/10                                5                                      Entitlement???
10/11                               6          English, Maths & Science
11/12   Key Stage 3                 7                                      Compulsory
12/13                               8
13/14                               9          English, Maths & Science
14/15   Key Stage 4                10                                      Entitlement
15/16                              11          GCSEs and/or Vocational
16/17   Further Education    12 /Lower Sixth   AS and/or Vocational        Optional
17/18                        13/Upper Sixth    A level and/or Vocational


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