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Creating the conditions required for the successful inclusion of pupils with special needs in mainstream settings benefits all learners.

Council of the European Union (2010)

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Maximising Potential

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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:

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)


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
(2) to get the pupils back on board.

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.
(2) Practical tasks that focus immediately on groups of learners whose attainment and/or motivation are giving cause for concern.
(3)The programme is aligned to current national initiatives that target inclusion and attainment.

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.

To see the whole online programme, go here:
Supplementary and Archive materials relating to the programme are stored on this site.

Download Points for Reflection from the programme


[Links last check on 18.10.10 unless otherwise indicated]

Scottish CILT
Professional development for teachers

CPD Find
Brings Continuing Professional Development opportunities togetherfor Scottish education

Children in Scotland
Training and events

Learning Together: Improving teaching, improving learning
The roles of continuing professional development, collegiality and chartered teachers in implementing Curriculum for Excellence. The publication affirms the importance of teachers learning together, recognising that the insights and expertise which lead to improvements for learners are often found amongst colleagues.

Highland Council: Learning and Teaching Toolkit

Teaching Assistants
Some general advice on the role of the teaching assistant

National Strategies: Modern Foreign Languages e-learning modules

[12.3.11] Teacher Education for Inclusion
A Project of the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. The project will run for 3 years 2009 - 2011. Information about project activities will be posted on this site as they become available. This is where you will find a Policy Review on Teacher Education for Inclusion and a Research Review.
All agency projects:

[26.10.10] Transversal
Transversal funds opportunities for UK education and training professionals to exchange expertise across Europe.

[13.6.11] Open University: Learning Space
Free access to Open University course materials, including units on inclusion

[30.10.10] Best of Bilash: Improving second language education
The University of Alberta's website for trainiee language teachers brings together aspects of theory and practice.

[30.10.10] CILT Training Zone
An online toolkit to develop languages teaching and learning

[30.10.10] General Teaching Council
Advice on the question of staff teaching outwith their subject specialism: "Registration, Subject teaching and Curriculum for Excellence"

[5.11.10] Links into Languages
Professional development for teachers.

[16.4.12] Continuing Professional Development (Scotland)
The national CPD Team provides strategic support for continuing professional development (CPD) and professional review and development throughout Scottish education.

[4.7.11] Teaching and Learning in the Community Language Classroom
This project aimed to raise the standards of teaching and learning in Bangla, Gujarati, and Urdu Community Language schools in Crawley. A course was developed, delivered and accredited by the Open College Network (OCN) at Levels 2 and 3 for volunteer teachers currently teaching in these language schools.

[6.8.11] Online training materials for MFL teachers
CILT Cymru's training modules are based on short video clips that could be used in departmental meetings.
The first module is about using interactive starters and games to raise motivation and achievement.

[5.10.11] British Sign Language
SQA is developing a Professional Development Award (PDA) in British Sign Language (BSL) Studies, as part of the initiative to improve linguistic access through support from the Equalities unit at Scottish Government. For more information:

[18.12.11] Reference grammars for primary teachers of modern languages
French, German, Spanish and Italian

[18.1.13] Professional Development Consortium in MFL
The Professional Development Consortium in Modern Foreign Languages (PDC in MFL) uses research evidence to raise attainment in the MFL classroom. To download a list of the eight priniciples, go here:


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