Find out how Calderglen is sustaining deep and progressive language learning experiences in two languages from primary to the broad general education.
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Authority: South Lanarkshire
Case Study Focus: Curriculum Design
Establishments: Calderglen High School, East Kilbride/associated primaries
Learners’ stage/s: P6 – S6
Calderglen High School was established after the merger of Hunter High school and Claremont High School in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire. It serves approximately 1,600 young people from 11 – 18 years. Calderglen High School shares its campus with Sanderson High School, a school catering for learners with additional support needs. The staff and young people of both establishments work closely together.
HMI has described the quality of learning and achievement at Calderglen High School as “particularly high”. Many of its young people enjoy successes in a wide range of sporting and cultural activities and the school recognises achievement through a range of accredited awards. The majority of learners from Calderglen High School move on to further study, employment or training on leaving school.
Calderglen High School – Inspection Report
In December 2012, Calderglen High School was the first secondary school whose curriculum was evaluated as “excellent” by HMI, following the introduction of the increased expectations.
Dr Alasdair Allan, former Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages made the following comment:
Underpinning language learning in Calderglen High School, is the clear rationale behind the school’s sector leading curriculum design.
Most children in Calderglen High School’s associated primary schools study French from primary 1. In addition, a number of pupils from the Gaelic Medium Unit at Mount Cameron Primary School enrol at Calderglen High School.
All learners continue to study the language they have studied at primary school until the end of S3. In addition to this, they have the opportunity to study more languages by choosing options at the end of S2. Languages on offer as options are French (for Gaelic medium learners) or Spanish. Alternatively, young people can engage with new languages in S3 through the “Languages for Life” option on the school’s innovative menu of master classes. Currently, young people in the Languages for Life master class can study Spanish with plans to introduce Gaelic learners in the future.
Young people in Calderglen High School learn in an environment where language learning is widely regarded as a valuable skill for life and work. The Principal Teacher is keen to explore more flexible ways of achieving accreditation through further use of the Modern Languages for Life and Work Award. In the senior phase, there are strong progression routes at various NQ levels in a selection of languages. In 2015/16, candidates were presented in AH French and AH Spanish with great success.
Modern language learning in Calderglen High School is shaped by a clear and unifying whole school vision:
The school is well placed to deliver the recommendations of the 1+2 Working Group, particularly those relating to;
The Modern Languages and Gaelic faculty has the full support of senior management and the education authority in planning provision for language learning. Within the local cluster, professional network group meetings are held several times a year giving colleagues the opportunity to share resources and approaches to language learning and teaching. Primary and secondary colleagues arrange visits between schools to learn from each other’s practice thus making transition from P7 into S1 more effective and sustainable. Continuity and progression are felt to be important principals that reinforce language study for all throughout the broad general education. This provides a solid foundation for learners to pursue language learning in the senior phase to achieve SQA accreditation.
In this video clip, Rhoda Kirkwood from Mount Cameron primary school talks about liaison between the sectors and progression from primary language learning into the secondary school.
Modern languages are given momentum through a collaborative approach to learning. Staff members demonstrate enthusiasm for languages and actively participate in whole school language events like European Day of Languages and the S3 Languages Work event.
Pupils learning through Gaelic medium are given a wealth of opportunities to celebrate wider achievement. Every year, pupils from Calderglen High School are encouraged to participate in nation-wide learning events and competitions such as FilmG, Deasbad BT Alba, The Royal National Mòd and BBC School Report. Locally organised events such as the Mòd in East Kilbride, The Gaelic Literature Festival and school visits/workshops with Gaelic personalities all provide relevant contexts through which Gàidhlig learning is enhanced. Interest is further sustained through planned interdisciplinary projects which provide new and appealing contexts for learning.
At S2, all learners are released from normal timetabling for the month of May so that they can participate in a range of linked interdisciplinary activities that have “The Future” as a context. The most recent activity was planned in collaboration with home economics and concerned futuristic food choices.
Pupils also benefit from strong partnerships with the wider Gaelic-speaking community, locally and nationally, and with Gaelic-speaking media. Having recently received funding for a range of broadcast grade media equipment the department can now offer pupils the opportunitiy to learn filming/production skills as part of their classroom learning, while providing exciting opportunities for extra-curricular projects in the wider community. With guidance from staff and the continued support of former pupils, senior learners lead a variety of clubs targeted at younger learners and the wider community. One such initiative is the monthly “Tea Club” which invited Gaelic speakers in the local area in to the school for refreshments and the chance to converse entirely in Gaelic with the young people. This initiative was very successful in the past and is being reintroduced this session. Such projects help forge good working relationships, help smooth transitions and firmly establish Gaelic as the language used between all Gaelic learners in the wider school community.
Engagement with Gaelic speakers in a range of professions continues to impact positively on learners. Young people in S1 studying the Myles Campbell novel “Clann a’ Phroifeasair” had the unique opportunity to take part in a Skype conference with the author, who answered their questions directly from the arts centre on the Isle of Skye. Additionally, representatives from the Gaelic college in Skye visit the school to discuss career paths with senior pupils. This year, we are looking at plans to take S4/5 pupils on a school trip to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (The National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture); where social as well as curricular immersion in the language would be of particular benefit to learners. In addition the college serves as a hub for other Gaelic bodies such as Cànan and Sealladh TV/Young Films and hosts a programme of residencies for artists in music, literature and the visual arts. Experience of the campus and the surrounding community will undoubtedly expand the horizons of pupils involved.
At Calderglen High School, staff are working hard to maintain pupil numbers post S3 following the removal of languages as a compulsory subject at S4. Pupils at all ages and stages comment positively on their learning experiences and readily testify to the benefits of studying languages.
Former pupils who have learned modern languages and Gaelic have gone on to study International Business and Modern Languages (IBML), Law with Languages, Dentistry with Languages, Film and Television studies, Theatre Studies and Gaelic Medium Education.
Every year the school holds a P7 open evening for parents of prospective pupils. This is an opportunity for modern languages staff to engage with parents about the importance of language learning. Early and sustained engagement from primary into secondary ensures that parents and carers know the importance and benefits of language learning on a young person’s future prospects.
The principal teacher recognises that earlier engagement with languages in primary school will have implications for learning and teaching in the secondary school. Children and young people will become more confident and increasingly successful learners of languages. Thus, sustaining progressive programmes of study throughout the BGE and into the senior phase will be a challenge for the modern languages and Gaelic faculty.
The faculty is keen to attract more young people into studying languages at NQ level and has identified the need to continue to build on the good practice established in the BGE. Possible challenges include creating increasingly flexible pathways for progression, sustaining challenge and enjoyment, and offering a wider range of languages.
The faculty identified the following steps as key to the continuing success of the 1+2 policy at Calderglen High School: