The French Curriculum
‘To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.’
- Chinese proverb
At Spinney Hill Primary School we recognise the importance of providing a curriculum which takes into account the backgrounds and needs of all pupils. Our curriculum is informed by clear drivers: questioning; communication; aspiration; emotional resilience and independence, and identity. We know that a high-quality languages education is central to these, broadening children’s horizons and aspirations by guiding them towards ‘global citizenship’. This fosters children's curiosity and deepens their understanding of the world by encouraging them to understand their own cultures and those of others through the study of languages.
Spinney Hill is a school rich in language. From the talk and oracy which features so prominently in lessons, to the bi-lingual and multi-lingual talents of the majority of the children and staff, the emphasis on language and effective communication is embedded across the school. The teaching and learning of French affords children an opportunity to learn a shared, common language beyond English or their home language or languages. Through doing so we aim for children to not only reinforce their understanding of grammatical structures, develop their oracy and communication skills, and make further connections in their broader learning, but to simply enjoy conversing in a French – an enjoyment which we hope will be transferred to and furthered at secondary. To enable this, the focus for the teaching and learning of French is firmly on the acquisition of sentence structures in order that children can express their ideas and thoughts in French and understand and respond in both in speech and in writing.
Whilst there is no requirement for children to learn French in Key Stage 1, our next step as a school is to embed the teaching of simple French vocabulary and common nouns in KS1 in order that children are better prepared for their learning of French as they move into Key Stage 2 and make rapid progress through being able to apply the knowledge they have within simple, conversational French from the outset.
Our French curriculum and milestones have been designed to ensure there is clear progression in the acquisition of skills and knowledge across Key Stage 2 and these cover the requirements of the National Curriculum. The teaching of high-quality French curriculum is supported by the use of the Primary Languages Network scheme of work and resources. This enables us to progressively develop pupil’s skills in a French through the well-taught and well-planned weekly lessons in KS2.
Our Primary Languages Network scheme of work has a focus on speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, as well as making children aware of grammatical features and structures of the French language. Most importantly, the scheme is supported by detailed audio guidance which allows both non-speakers to teach French and but also precise and accurate exemplification to be given. Teachers follow the sequence of lessons from this scheme of work which covers a wide variety of topics and themes. Where appropriate, lessons are developed to make stronger links with other curriculum areas. Weekly lessons are taught ensuring progression by building on previous lessons, particularly the sentence stems and structures employed and learned, and understanding developed through utilisation of our oracy strategies and alongside songs, games, stories and rhymes which ensures lessons are inclusive for all groups of learners.
Whilst there is no recommended structure to French lessons, we know that effective teaching of French would include the following.
The impact of our French curriculum is measured through learning walks, book sampling, analysis of learning journeys and monitoring of learning environments by the subject leaders and SLT in order to identify how ready children are for the next stage in their learning and areas in need of development. Subject leaders also conduct pupil interviews to ensure pupils are retaining prior-learning and making connections with what they are currently learning. In addition to this, each child’s progress is monitored by class teachers who assess them against our milestones. Teachers also create ‘impact’ pages on teams to provide a snap-shot of learning to reflect both what has been covered and to illustrate what children are capable of achieving.