LANGUAGES WITHOUT LIMITS
Creating the conditions required for the successful inclusion of pupils with special needs in mainstream settings benefits all learners.
Increasingly, inclusive education is seen as the way of the future; it is both a reform that supports and welcomes the increasing diversity amongst learners and an engine that drives improvement in schools. It is now clear that teaching 'inclusively' has benefits for learners spanning the whole range of abilities. Initial teacher training is now preparing student teachers for diversity.
But what of teachers already in service?
This website is one small response to that question, at least as for as foreign language teaching is concerned. Much of the material on this site is derived from in-service training sessions and in-school projects conducted over the last ten years with MFL teachers in Scotland and colleagues in Support for Learning who work alongside them in mainstream classes. Hence the Workshops that are a feature of this website. Currently there are seventeen of them; more are planned.
Two main projects conducted in schools contributed to the contents of this website: Working Together for Inclusion (aka Improving Collaborative Practice), and Maximising Potential. Brief details of both can be found on this site, and some of the papers arising from them are stored in the Archives.
Scottish CILT and Learning and Teaching Scotland commissioned a version of these in-school projects to run as an online programme supporting the development of inclusive practice in MFL departments in schools. It too is known as Maximising Potential. To users of this website, parts will seem familar, but it is more focused and contains material for use in monitoring and evaluating a formal programme of development in your school. You can find a description of the programme below, and the programme itself here: http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/maximisingpotential
Advice on implementing National Qualifications at Access levels can be obtained from the Scottish Qualifications Authority website. Additional help generated in early workshops and seminars can be found in the Assessment and Qualifications section of this site, and in Workshop 16.
Links to other websites providing good sources of advice and training can be found at the end of the page.
The task of initial teacher education is to prepare people to enter a profession which accepts individual and collective responsibility for improving the learning and participation of all children.
Florian and Rouse (2009)
ABOUT MAXIMISING POTENTIAL
Maximising Potential is a programme of professional and curriculum development based on experiences in schools over the last ten years or more that have shown that all children can benefit from language learning, but that not all actually do so. That leaves us with the question of why some of them are not learning. Why is it that - despite the best efforts and dedication of their teachers - some of them still aren't reaching their potential? Part of the answer seems to be that teachers need to know more about what helps children to learn and, perhaps more importantly in the early stages, what hinders them. The Maximising Potential programme doesn't suggest any tailor-made solutions - every class is different; every pupil is different; what works for some doesn't work for others, etc. So it's flexible: modern language departments, with support of Senior Management, identify their own priorities and design their own programme.
What modern language teachers have been saying for some years now is that they know that something has to change, but they don't quite know what. And they don't want to risk making changes that might make things worse. What they want more than anything is some advice about how to go about making changes that will work for them, for their pupils, and don't require fancy resources that they don't have. Maximising Potential provides a programme which aims to help modern language teachers and support staff to work together with a specific class, to identify small changes that will make a big difference to relationships, morale and learning in the shortest possible time.
So, this is a starter pack, with intensive SfL support in the early stages:
(1) to kick-start a problem-solving approach to managing learning, and
Once those aims have been achieved class teacher and pupils can move ahead on their own, with occasional help and consultancy from learning support staff - as usual.
Key features of the programme are:
(1) Professional collaboration between Modern Languages and Support for Learning, and with the assistance of School Managers.
The more this programme has been used with schools, the more clearly it appears that the foreign language itself is not the problem. What prevents children from learning as well as we would like them to is more generic; the issues that modern language teachers are likely to identify in the course of the project might apply to any subject. The principles which hold good in a modern language class can apply in any subject.
[Links last check on 18.10.10 unless otherwise indicated]
Children in Scotland
Learning Together: Improving teaching, improving learning
National Strategies: Modern Foreign Languages e-learning modules
[12.3.11] Teacher Education for Inclusion
[13.6.11] Open University: Learning Space
[30.10.10] Best of Bilash: Improving second language education
[30.10.10] CILT Training Zone
[30.10.10] General Teaching Council
[5.11.10] Links into Languages
[16.4.12] Continuing Professional Development (Scotland)
[4.7.11] Teaching and Learning in the Community Language Classroom
[6.8.11] Online training materials for MFL teachers
[5.10.11] British Sign Language
[18.12.11] Reference grammars for primary teachers of modern languages
[18.1.13] Professional Development Consortium in MFL