In 2012-13, the appointment of a new head teacher; national changes to the curriculum and new government policy on the delivery of language were catalysts for change in the school. In 2014 the school timetable was restructured from a 29 period week to a 32 period week to provide more breadth across the curriculum and allow a focus on the 1+2 Approach. To support progression in French and German, one of these additional periods was given to languages, therefore, as learners move from primary into secondary they are entitled to four periods of language each week from S1 through to S3. This gives recognition to the work of the associate primary schools, who in partnership with the secondary, agreed to deliver the L3 on a continuum model.
Since changes were made in 2014, learners in S1 and S2 study French three times a week and have one additional period a week dedicated to German. In S3 pupils are allocated two periods of French and two periods of German. This gives learners the opportunity to be approaching or to achieve fourth level by the end of the broad general education in both languages.
To support the implementation of the 1+2 Approach, the school organised three transition events with the aim of promoting languages, enhancing transition from primary to secondary and developing closer links between primary and secondary colleagues in the context of the broad general education; over 200 pupils from P7 to S6 were involved in these events. One of these transition events included a learner-led language initiative whereby secondary pupils from S1, S2 and S4 were involved in teaching a range of activities and vocabulary in relation to Easter in French, German and Spanish to primary pupils. This was a positive experience for all learners involved and raised the profile of language learning in the cluster.
"The language transition days really helped me as I was introduced to my teachers and it allowed me to make friends more quickly." (Primary pupil)
Collegiate working between primary and secondary colleagues has been key to the ongoing successful implementation of the 1+2 Approach. To allow for effective communication between primary and secondary in implementing the approach, the cluster have appointed lead learners (primary) and link teachers (secondary) who have regular meetings to discuss progress and organise transition events. Following the success of learner-led activities as part of transition events the cluster introduced a Language Ambassadors Scheme for senior pupils. As part of this scheme pupils receive training, provided by secondary staff, on the ‘Literacy and Modern Languages benchmarks’ and ‘Train the teacher’ training in German. This training allows them to lead language lessons in associate primaries with the class teacher in a co-operative role. In October 2017, these ambassadors also had the opportunity to lead a workshop on the importance of languages, as part of a promotional event for languages in the world of work, to younger learners in the secondary; feedback following this event was extremely positive. Such opportunities have allowed these senior pupils to not only develop their language skills but develop valuable skills for life and work. Listen to seniors talk about their experiences of languages at JYHS:
To ensure diversity of languages in the secondary and to allow for personalisation and choice, Spanish is also offered as an elective in S3. Young people who opt for this additional language experience receive 6 periods of language per week. Learners can also gain qualifications at National 3, 4 and 5 in Mandarin in S5/6.
Over the last two years, secondary modern languages teachers have organised a German Language Adventure with the Goethe-Institut, grouping P7s with S1s to promote the progression and enjoyment of L3.
The department has also invited SCILT into the school to support business language events for S3 pupils and a P7 open evening, where parents and pupils had the opportunity find out about the impact learning more than one language can have on literacy and employability.