Besides the obvious benefit of being able to speak another language, Shaftesbury Park Primary School established its Bilingual Stream in order that local children be given the opportunity to benefit from the many other advantages a bilingual education can confer, including higher levels of academic achievement, improved communication and problem-solving skills and a more global outlook.
Delivery of the Bilingual Curriculum
At Shaftesbury Park Primary School, teaching follows the International Primary Curriculum, a comprehensive, thematic, creative curriculum, which develops international mindedness and encourages personal learning.
In the bilingual stream, this is adapted to support the children in learning to read, understand, speak and write in French to teach our lessons in French. Whilst the core subjects of Literacy and Mathematics are always taught in English, children in the bilingual stream are taught all other subjects in French with lessons carefully and thoughtfully adapted to make them suitable for all, with expectations in terms of listening, reading, writing and speaking growing year upon year as their French proficiency improves. Research shows that this immersive approach allows children to acquire impressive amounts of the second language, attain native-like receptive skills and develop much higher levels of proficiency than in a typical Modern Foreign Language classroom setting.
Children begin their bilingual journey in our Reception class, learning through French games, activities, songs and role-play, before moving into Year 1 where they continue to grow their vocabulary through IPC activities and lessons every afternoon. Early work on French phonics from year 2 onwards enables children to read in French and begin to understand some basic grammar and spelling rules which are then consolidated and expanded upon in Key stage 2. As children advance through the school, they develop their capability to not only converse in French but also write in French, applying their knowledge to their IPC work at a level that would be expected in Secondary school.
The Four Macro Skills of Language Learning
The four macro skills of language learning are developed throughout a child’s time in the Bilingual Stream. Lessons will often incorporate a combination of these skills due to the way in which acquisition of any of these skills reinforces the acquisition of the others.
Children’s achievement in French is assessed using the Language Ladders framework. This breaks down language acquisition into its four constituent key skills, listening, speaking, reading and writing, and then into degrees of competency, enabling pupils’ progress in each of these areas to be monitored effectively and teaching to be tailored accordingly to support skill development.
For more information on what is expected of learners at each grade and what skills they will achieve as they progress, please see our Language Ladders leaflet.
Whilst this is not part of the UK national curriculum and does not form part of the assessment process at Shaftesbury Park, we are proud to be able to offer our children the chance to sit the prestigious DELF exam.
The DELF is an internationally recognised diploma awarded by the French Ministry of Education to non-French candidates in recognition of their French language skills.
Sitting the DELF exam presents a wonderful opportunity for children’s achievements in the French language to be officially recognised and celebrated. All those wishing to sit the exam are offered additional support in the form of lunchtime clubs and/or extra support in class to help them prepare.
Since first entering children for this internationally recognised award in 2016, Shaftesbury Park Primary School is proud to have put children forward for a number of different levels of award up to A2 level (roughly equivalent to a foundation level GCSE), maintaining a 100% pass rate overall. Shaftesbury Park Primary School is also proud to be an examination centre for the award with four members of the teaching staff qualified to administer the tests.
For more information about the DELF Prim, including sample papers, please visit https://www.france-education-international.fr/en/delf-prim
Beyond the Classroom
Our Social Curriculum – Developing French language skills at playtimes, lunchtimes and after school
Here at Shaftesbury Park, we believe in the importance of taking our language learning beyond the classroom door. Formal language learning in class is complemented at all levels by a supported social curriculum during playtimes and lunchtimes. From telling stories to running activities and games to modelling key language and vocabulary, French-speaking staff are always on hand to help the children to develop their speaking and listening skills in these more informal contexts. French-speaking staff are also present in the lunch hall to help and encourage the children to make requests from the food and salad bar in French. Outside of the regular school day, we are proud to be able to offer a wide-range of French-language extracurricular clubs such as French Drama, French Board Games, French Book Club and French Choir, providing yet more opportunities for children to use and develop their language skills.
Celebrating French Culture
In addition to helping children develop French language skills through immersion in the language, we also seek to immerse children in French culture. Working in partnership with the Institut Français, children in the bilingual stream benefit from access to a wide range of authentic French materials, including books, magazines, cartoons, workshops, cinema visits, plays and performances. As a school we also celebrate a number of significant dates in the French cultural calendar including l’Épiphanie, la Semaine de la Francophonie and la Fête Nationale.
Links with the Enterprise Stream
Whilst pupils are either in an Enterprise or a Bilingual Class, we are very much a united school with each stream deriving direct benefit from the other. Children in the Enterprise stream benefit from high quality French language teaching and an awareness of French culture through our whole school celebration of significant dates in the French cultural calendar, whilst children in the Bilingual stream benefit from the Enterprise ethos of the school with its emphasis on 8 business skills and participate in our fun Enterprise Challenge Days. Children in the Enterprise and Bilingual classes in each year group regularly mix with each other for the delivery of maths and literacy which at Key Stage 2 is taught in three groups from across the year group, allowing all pupils regardless of stream to benefit from high quality teaching in smaller groups. Children also mix at playtimes and lunchtimes.