As the secondary school is small, there are currently only two languages teachers in post. While this does have implications for how the school is building their 1+2 curriculum, the teachers have worked creatively and collaboratively to ensure that their learners are afforded their full entitlement to learning two languages.
Children in Keith Primary School study German from P1 as L2, while the L2 in the other five associated primaries is French. This approach maximises the capacity of existing staff who also benefit from the support of a German Educational Trainee (GET) and some input from a French Modern Language Assistant. There is a strong culture of language learning in the Associated Schools Group (ASG) which is supported by the secondary department.
The school has made good progress in planning how to introduce additional languages in the BGE. Staff believe there is effective transition between P7 and S1 and all learners have their full entitlement to L2 until the end of S3.
Learners also have the opportunity to achieve the ‘Building your own employability skills’ unit from the Modern Languages for Life and Work Award (MLLWA) in S3 through the school’s Universal Pupil Support programme.
There are many opportunities for learners to study French or German in the senior phase, and beyond through the school’s Wider Aspects option. Learners also have the opportunity to study both French and German as each language is timetabled in different columns.
Both languages can be studied as part of MLLWA or as an SQA national qualification up to Advanced Higher.
In addition, some learners have enrolled for the Open University’s Young Applicants in School Scheme (YASS).
By enrolling in the YASS course, I’ll be developing loads of organisational skills and becoming more independent in my own learning.” (S5 pupil)
The department also offers extra-curricular support in German as part of the skills section of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. This gives learners a foundation on which to build, should they wish to study German at National 5 or Higher level later in the senior phase.
Pupils appreciate this flexibility and the variety of progression pathways for languages ensures a high uptake in the senior phase.
Progressing towards the “1+ 2 Approach”
The Modern Languages Department has the full support of senior management and the local authority in planning provision for language learning. Young people in Keith Grammar learn in an environment where language learning is widely regarded as a valuable skill for life and work.
All learners continue with the language they have studied at primary school until the end of S3. However, as the secondary department has limited teaching capacity, and there is little flexibility within the timetable structure at the moment to offer an additional language in the BGE, the department explored ways of introducing L3 in the BGE in consultation with the ASG.
The decision was taken that L3 in P5-P7 would be Scots. The staff in the English department have specialist knowledge of Scots language and agreed to work collaboratively to share their expertise with primary colleagues. There are strong progression pathways for Scots into the senior phase, where learners have the opportunity to achieve the Scots Language Award at National 4 and 5. Scots language is also an inherent part of the area’s culture and Keith was in fact named Scotland’s first Scots Toun in 2014. Therefore, the decision to opt for Scots as L3 made perfect sense in this context.