As the new school year starts…

I hope that you have had a good break and rest over the summer. Heads of departments and teachers have been considering the new A Level and GCSE specifications on training days and thinking about whether the learning of a foreign language is statutory in all key stages. There are some relevant sections for us to consider in Nick Gibb’s statements.

Our policy to make the EBacc compulsory from 2020 onwards has significant staffing implications for schools, and that is why we are developing significant measures to meet them….

Many who disagree with our vision of an educated person have taken issue with this government’s emphasis on the EBacc, which will be compulsory for all pupils entering secondary school this month. We believe all children are entitled to learn a language and 3 sciences; that all children require a basic level of mathematics and English to thrive; and that all children should be initiated into the world through a study of either its history or its geography….’

Many, many people work so hard every day. As well as everyone involved in education across the globe, journalists and film crews at times of crisis are incredibly busy. Since I visited the ZDF television studios in Mainz in July, and had a fascinating guided tour, I look at the role that journalists play in bringing us live news in a different way.

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They have to work extremely hard! I also heard the short interview that Nina Ridge, the BBC weather forecaster gave recently about her decision to leave this role and return to teaching Maths. She has four young children and has had to get up so early to do the weather forecasts. How about this as a possible teaching idea, could her story be used in a language lesson to compare routines of working mothers in different jobs and different countries? Could the focus be on recap of time, comparing school and work routines? This could lead to a comparison in pupils’ lives, maybe daily routine in the summer holidays compared to school term time.

I’m sure that we have all thought in the last couple of weeks about the situation in Europe and the plight of the families involved. Did you see the drawings by the young people and children waiting at Budapest’s Keleti railway station? The text is by Margit Feher and photos are by Aron Suveg for The Wall Street Journal. Have a look and see how you could use these photos and drawings in class during the next couple of weeks. As well as the short text and picture prompts which could be a translation task or to promote speaking, the issues surrounding the migrant crisis can be talked about at a number of levels, in KS3 or building up to the deeper political issues in an A Level class.

How can we ensure progress is being made in speaking and writing as current news items are exploited? How can grammar be taught effectively whilst using authentic texts such as these? My blog posts in the coming weeks will look at changes in the specifications and various planning ideas, which will hopefully help you with some of your preparation.

This photo by Stefan Rumpf at Munich railway station could be used for a Group talk activity.

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