Hackney Learning Trust was invited by Baroness Cousins, (Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Languages), to showcase their unique MFL provision to the committee at the House of Lords on Monday 19 March.

A team made up of experts, consultants, teachers and pupils shared their ground breaking work, which has won national recognition, to MPs. Languages provision in Hackney has a joined up approach leading to 100% of schools providing Spanish as the first foreign language taught.

Richard Hardie, former Chair of The Learning Trust, highlighted that a key factor to the success of this initiative is the collaborative approach of all schools in Hackney. The group visiting the House of Lords were two maintained schools and two academies. The seeds of this initiative were sown in 2013 when secondary and primary head teachers decided urgent action was needed to meet the new statutory requirement to teach a language in primary schools. Collaboration was required to ensure effective transition into secondary to raise attainment and numbers at GCSE and A Level.

The bold decision to agree on a first foreign language has meant that both primary and secondary schools have a joined up and coherent approach to their MFL provision, whilst not neglecting other languages. Their belief is that they have created an exciting offer in Hackney.

An invited audience represented organisations such as: Ofsted, DfE, NAHT, ALL, CIOL, The Spanish Embassy, British Council and other interested language specialists.

The key aspects shared by the Hackney team were:

  • The commitment to Hackney children by all schools, whether they are academies, faith schools, or Local Authority, to provide the best MFL experience and to ensure pupils are equipped for the world of work in a global context.
  • Collaboration between and across primary and secondary; the sharing of good practice and expertise in a climate of respect for each other’s experiences.
  • The importance of transition and sharing of data when pupils leave primary school, thus ensuring secondary schools confidently build on prior attainment.
  • Setting up systems, advocates and ambassadors to promote MFL and keep it high on the agenda.
  • Accessing as many sources of external support as possible including: The Spanish Embassy, British Council, Geffrye Museum, Sutton House, Rio Cinema and people within the local Hackney community.
  • The need to give pupils real life contextual experiences at primary age by visiting partner schools in Spain and to establish a purposeful link with Spanish pupils.
  • A regular-CPD offer to ensure high quality teaching for pupils.
  • A monitoring system in the form of The Hackney Primary Spanish Award, enabling schools to meet the criteria to demonstrate their quality provision.
  • William Patten and Parkwood primary schools shared their holistic approach to teaching Spanish through other areas of the curriculum and the impact of working closely with their partner schools and local parental community.

The presentations were very well received by the audience and provoked thoughtful discussions about how the Hackney model could be replicated in different contexts.

Hackney Learning Trust would like to thank:

Richard Hardie: Vice Chair of Bridge Academy Governing Body

Craig Porteous: Deputy Head at William Patten Primary School

Jaqueline Smith: Head of MFL at Skinners’ Academy

Raquel Tola Rego: MFL teacher at Parkwood Primary and MFL Consultant

Amani Albrair and Mikolaj Zakrocki Year 6 pupils from Parkwood Primary School.

If you would like any further information please contact:

Bernadette Clinton: Bernadette.Clinton@learningtrust.co.uk

Anushka Sonpal: Anushka.Sonpal@learningtrust.co.uk

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