Well yesterday was the last of three Subject Coordinators CPD afternoon sessions this academic year for Janet Lloyd Network.51 local primary schools have participated in these sessions and we have run each session twice so that the groups were half that size and colleagues who signed up at the start of the year could make one of the two sessions. We have shared our findings and discussions and the materials we have considered via our subject coordinator pages on the JLN website with all our colleagues .
When we set off in October it was very much led by myself as we began to unpick the new DfE POS but over the second and certainly the third sessions it’s been wonderful to observe and listen to the teachers’ discussions and opinions and to hear what they have done or are doing back in school. One colleague and one school has learned from another school but we have kept a steady keel and a clear focus and view by working together and breaking down the steps we have taken.It’s also important to understand that the network schools teach different languages – French (in the main), Spanish and a few teach German. One or two have considered Mandarin particularly later in UKS2.
Our main focus has been the new DfE POS from September 2014, but the benefits have been extended networking , building working relationships and sharing of ways forward. Yesterday we welcomed two new coordinators on board and it was the support I observed other colleagues offering these two new coordinators that not only made me smile but made me feel confident that this is a supportive way to work.
The CPD sessions have been some of the most enjoyable training sessions I have been involved in. Why? Well I think there are a few reasons. I think one very large reason is that we see it as “our” network and we enjoy new members joining us too. Here are some of the other important reasons why I think it works:
- Our network has schools within it that have worked with together alongside myself for at least 11 years and we have experience to draw upon from earlier language learning.
- Our network never stopped .It was established back in 2001 when I was a local AST – it’s just grown.
- Our network also has new network members who have joined us recently or are still joining us and they bring different approaches and new horizons and views of primary languages.
- Our network members share and appreciate each others’ opinions and ideas.
- Not everything is “rocket science” ,much is down to earth and practical approaches to the weekly ways to deliver effective primary language learning.
- Colleagues ask and challenge and don’t just accept.
- The sessions have focused on the mechanics of developing language learning in individual schools
- All the colleagues are keen to plan for, look for and demonstrate progress.
All of the 90 networks have subject coordinators and each subject coordinator has or becomes committed to the development of primary foreign language learning in their school. Why shouldn’t they?
For each of them it becomes a role in which they can have very positive impact and in which role they can develop activities and learning programmes that the children in their school enjoy and benefit from. This is probably one of the greatest joys from my viewpoint- watching individual s grow and watching often quite scared individuals take on the challenge of establishing primary languages in their school and amongst their staff. What they all do and want to do is find solutions that work.
Our subject coordinators are a diverse group too:
- Degree level secondary trained linguists who became primary class teachers
- Degree level linguists who are PGCE primary trained
- Primary QTS teachers who have a language specialism or an A Level in a language
- Primary QTS who have an interest in languages
- Literacy coordinators with a responsibility for communication skills in school
- Primary teachers who have spent several years working or travelling abroad and learned their language whilst abroad.
- Primary teachers who struggled at school to learn a language and want t make a difference to their young learners’ experience of languages
- Teaching assistants who have developed a very special role as the person in charge of language learning in their school- some of these people have degrees in a language or two, have learned a language all their lives or have a passion for a language
The diverse nature of the network and the colleagues I work with, is what helps us thrive. Each person and every school has the right to be within the network. The network is built around primary language learning and the native speakers who work with us adapt their understanding of how they learned English or taught English so that they can work with us and provide creative primary approaches to language learning. As Emilie @EWoodruffe often says to me in her tweets #ilovemyjob.
Who are the native speakers in our network? Well in general they are our support and link to the real language and the real culture. This has definitely made a difference for us all. When we don’t know or we want to learn more we have Emilie, Stephanie, José, Ana and Barbara who we can turn to. In the network 31 schools work with associate language teachers every week ( either native or fluent language deliverers)and this works best when it suits the school and the staff embrace the language learning too!
And so to next week It’s our conference – the afternoon tea is important- always has been , but the meeting up as one very large group of people is far more important. This year the network has been able to invite Clare Seccombe and Julie Prince to speak so we can take on board new ideas for phonology , communication and literacy skills. As always there is a local speaker. Last year it was two subject coordinators who had good practice to share and Ana and her subject coordinator who shared their trip to Malaga with 12 year 6 children. This year it’s Emilie and her down to earth but effective work with speaking and APPS.
It seems to me that the driver of our progress is based upon effective and appropriate networking.Thank you to everyone of the colleagues who works within the network!