At Fulbrook, the intention of our French curriculum is to develop a curiosity and thirst for learning French in a safe and engaging environment. We aim to introduce the learning of the French language in stimulating and enjoyable ways, ensuring that every pupil is able to achieve and be proud of their progress. We aim to promote cultural development by building pupils’ awareness and acceptance of the differences between our two countries and other francophone countries worldwide. Social development is promoted by learning the skill of communicating in different ways and spiritual development through exploring the beauty of a different language. We aim to help pupils achieve an accurate and truthful understanding of another culture to promote their moral development.
We aim to provide opportunities for pupils to extend their language learning beyond the classroom by offering trips to France and forging links with local French companies. We also annually host a Languages Masterclass Day for Year 8 pupils from Fulbrook and other neighbouring middle schools.
Our curriculum in French is closely linked with our Values statement. Examples of how our curriculum supports our school values are through a range of activities that promote student curiosity, confidence and collaborative thinking. Through teacher modelling, we encourage our students to be kind, respectful, thoughtful and mindful of others and our enthusiastic and encouraging approach is mirrored in the engagement and enthusiasm shown by our students.
We strive to embed the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in an authentic manner, exposing pupils to a maximum of target language in lessons. As a department, we have a carefully planned progression through our curriculum with content and skills clearly defined in our schemes of work, which revisit and build on existing knowledge. The topic areas and grammatical structures introduced in KS2 and KS3 are building blocks for more in-depth learning at GCSE level.
As pupils progress through the French curriculum at Fulbrook, we aim to also provide them with opportunities to enrich their cultural capital through the study of French films, poems and contemporary music.
It is our strong desire that every pupil at Fulbrook becomes a confident and engaged learner, who is armed with the skills needed to thrive and succeed in language learning. We achieve this through Quality First Teaching, providing learners with the input and help to make French comprehensible in a low anxiety situation.
Our French curriculum has been designed to progressively develop skills in French. Pupils in KS2 are taught two hours of French each two-week cycle and KS3 three. We have introduced a new and exciting method of teaching into French over the last year, which has seen the introduction of EPI (Extensive Processing Instruction) methodology, making the focus of lessons exposing pupils to as much spoken content as possible before moving onto production. Bespoke booklets have been produced replacing exercise books, which include knowledge organisers and sentence builders. I have been able to attend CPD courses on the EPI teaching methodology and have already witnessed positive signs that it is working for all pupils at Fulbrook.
Collaborative curriculum planning with other middle schools lies at the heart of what we do in the department. With the future of Fulbrook changing, we are committed this year to a plan of developing our schemes of work in KS3 to include Year 9. Alongside this, we are working on initial KS4 schemes of work and researching KS4 examination options including both GCSE and FCSE. During our transition period, we are also keen to promote close ties with our feeder first schools over the coming three years to ensure a consistent experience is offered to all Year 5 and 6 pupils.
Our schemes of work are focussed on embedding challenge, metacognition, memory techniques and literacy into our departmental curriculum Alongside our schemes of work, we are developing knowledge organisers at KS3. This is enabling us to define the core knowledge our students need to master. In MFL, we also implement our curriculum through using a variety of teaching approaches and tasks, which encompass the four key skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Interleaving of previous knowledge alongside new language is also built into our schemes of work.
Listening has been a neglected area in MFL teaching, partly due to students finding it the hardest. We believe that listening is the most important skill in the development of language proficiency and therefore prioritise it in all lessons in order to develop pupils’ confidence and skills as listeners. Far from being a ‘Cinderella’ skill, we believe that listening should take centre stage in all lessons.
Grammar is taught in a lexicogrammar way in all year groups initially, with more emphasis being placed on explicit grammar learning in KS3. We believe that it is better to work intensively on a range of shorter tasks in lessons, rather than on longer tasks that can reduce pupils’ engagement and affect their confidence levels. In KS2, a range of songs is used to engage learners and promote language retention.
We subscribe to The Language Gym and Sentence Builders software, which allows pupils to explore and practise core language at their own pace and in a safe environment. The French classroom houses a class set of Kindles, which are used to set challenging and scaffolded tasks for learners to complete on this software both in class and as homework. Putting pupils at the centre of their learning is a priority in our department as is making the most of learning outside of the classroom in an active and engaging way.
We know our curriculum is working in the French department through the engagement of students throughout the school, both observed and recorded in student voice. The quality of teaching and learning in French has been praised consistently during learning walks by both external and internal observers, with Upper School colleagues remarking on the impressive level of language and knowledge from Fulbrook pupils.
The introduction of EPI teaching and activities in lessons and homework has received positive feedback from students and parents alike. Pupils have stated that they enjoy lessons more and are able to produce language more confidently. Engagement in lessons is visibly higher in all year groups and with all abilities.
Pupils usually complete assessments each half-term on the topics studied. The first assessments based on the new methodology were completed in October 2021.