Language Teachers In Primary Schools

The general consensus regarding the introduction of foreign language teaching in primary schools is that it must be of a high enough standard to warrant its space in an already busy curriculum. Certainly, the value of introducing languages at a young age is widely appreciated, but there is a growing concern that the promises of increased fluency cannot be fulfilled by primary teachers.

The current ‘no statutory requirement’ to teach a language at Key Stages 1 and 2 has, according to some, resulted in amateurish teaching. Studies have shown that over 50% of language teaching in schools is of a very poor standard because teachers have limited knowledge of the language they are teaching. Many teachers find the prospect of teaching a language daunting because they have not encountered such a subject since they left school, if at all. The idea that brave members of staff will be holding the fort by being one step ahead of a text book is a genuine worry for parents.

There are movements, however, to improve language teaching in primary schools. Some virtual learning programmes are being funded by the Department for Education to better qualify teachers for the task. For the time being, most of these courses only focus on French but the hope is that they will expand into Spanish and German as well as less commonly taught languages. There are also a number of programmes that have been developed by various institutions such as universities that aim to give primary teachers specialist training.

Specialising in subjects, such as languages, is now being encouraged in teacher training. Currently, primary school teachers are ‘all-rounders’ who can approach any subject, but this may change with the move to a new curriculum. The Government is looking to provide generous incentives to teacher trainees specialising in maths, science or languages, so that children will get a better education in core subjects from a younger age. The selection process for trainees will also become stricter thereby ensuring that only the brightest candidates will be able to teach. This movement to having in-house specialists will also mean that outside linguists will not be required for language clubs.

Ideally, the new curriculum needs to be adequately funded and highly organised to guarantee success. Teachers need to be confident and capable when teaching a language to ensure that pronunciation and basic grammar is correct. Furthermore, there will need to be some attempt to ensure that primary school pupils reach a universal standard. This is necessary so that staff at secondary schools can continue teaching languages without having to undo previously learned mistakes or spend time helping some students reach the same level as the rest of their class. While consistency in ability is important, for the programme to be worthwhile, it is also crucial that there is cohesion between the choice of languages taught at primary school and secondary school.

Overall, the promise of better language skills in this country will only be fulfilled if our teachers are capable of teaching them. Hopefully, the new curriculum will be properly supported to ensure this is the case.

How Primary School Songs Can Help Children Learn

Using Primary School Songs For Learning And Development

Primary school is a key stage of a child’s development and a time when a lot of their learning in a formative way takes place, which can have a big effect on them in later life. Songs can help children learn and develop in a variety of ways, and as such it is something that should be encouraged in the education system. Some of the benefits of songs and music in junior schools include:

  • Confidence – by getting children to partake in group signing, then children get confidence in group activities as they are using their talent but in a way that doesn’t single them out. Primary school songs tend to be lively which encourages the children to sing up and have the confidence to participate
  • Expressing Themselves – music in primary schools is a great way to get your pupils to express themselves by participating in singing. As the children get more confident, then they will feel more suited to expressing themselves through songs. Learning how to express themselves, will mean that the children become better at social interaction.
  • Participation – because singing and music in primary schools involves something slightly more involved than a normal lesson then children are likely to participate in something that they see as fun and interesting, therefore encouraging
  • Language Development – studies have shown that singing to younger children helps them develop language better, however being able to sing in a group can help teach new vocabulary and an ability to use new words, as well as helping with their diction. Children develop better verbal emotion and spatial awareness through singing
  • Memory – learning songs contextualises things, so teaching a particular subject or fact through primary school songs, is a great way to get children to learn and remember things.
  • Brain Development – research shows that childrens brains develop better if singing is involved in the classroom, as it encourages brain activity on a number of levels, and this stimulation is good for development.
  • Student Teacher Bond – if your class sees that you are engaging with them in singing, then it will improve your relationship with them, as they will see it as a huge positive that an adult is engaging in a fun activity with them, and make them seem more accessible.

What Are The Best Type Of Primary School Songs?

The range of primary school songs that are available is huge, the content of the songs themselves isn’t always the most important factor, at a young age songs that encourage participation are the best option. The more your class gets confident in participating in songs, the more likely they are to benefit from songs that have a more educational content.

Songs and music in primary schools are an important educational resource, incorporating songs into teaching about number, time and other concepts for children at early ages encourages your class to pick up valuable ideas, because it seems like a fun engaging activity.

Getting in to the Local Primary Schools of Your Choice

You may already know which local primary school you want your child to go to, you may have no idea. You may have only just started looking or you may be on the verge of making a choice. Wherever you are at, it is important to ensure you have all the knowledge at your disposal to make the right decision.

So how do you go about choosing and what criteria are local primary schools using to make decisions as to who to offer places to?

1. Decision makers – Local primary schools themselves do not decide who does and does not come to their school. This decision is taken at local authority level, so the school will have no influence in their intake save for trying to attract local children through open days and parent meetings.

2. Religion – many local primary schools are denominational. That is, they follow a faith, usually because they are next to a church or in the parish of a church. As a result, these local primary schools will use faith as a key part of their entry requirements – usually in fact the number one item on the list for a faith school is acceptance into that faith. So if you have a Catholic school on your doorstep and you want your child to go there, then there is a good chance they will want your child to have been baptised into the Catholic faith.

3. Locality – it may seem obvious, but local primary schools want local children. Next on the agenda for local authorities making decisions is their home address. If two children are vying for the same school place with identical backgrounds, then the one that lives in the school’s catchment area will get the place before one that does not. This is important to local primary schools because they are concentrated in residential areas in order to serve the needs of a community, unlike secondary schools which are less concentrated and serve a wider community as the children are much older and have the ability to travel there independently.

4. Siblings – local primary schools, as the centres of the communities in which they exist, will always favour family members over non-family members. So if an applicant has an older brother or sister in a school, then they are more likely to be accepted in a school than an applicant without a sibling at the school. This doesn’t mean that children without brothers or sisters will not get into the school of your choice, but it is worth considering in smaller communities where the primary schools are often quite small.

So whichever local primary schools you are considering for your child, it is always important to remember the chances of them getting accepted to go there will be influenced by many different factors, not just whether or not it is down the road from your house. It is always worth speaking to the school first and getting some input into how their selection criteria works. Every school will have a list of criteria which you can see to help you make the right choice.