Unlocking Languages: Passport to Success

A Modern Foreign Languages Conference

The Tomlinson Centre, Queensbridge Road, E8 3ND
Friday 24 June 2016 9.15am – 4pm

Keynote speakers

Bernardette Holmes MBE – Campaign Director of Speak to the Future
Martin Buck – Head of Secondary, Hackney Learning Trust
Bernadette Clinton – MFL Consultant, Hackney Learning Trust
Vicky Gough – Schools Adviser and Lead for MFL, British Council

In 2013 all Hackney’s primary and secondary schools agreed to teach Spanish as the first foreign language. This agreement was made to ensure a coherent and smooth transition from primary to secondary and to enable the pupils to attain high standards in Spanish.

Hackney Learning Trust wishes to share our experiences since May 2013 and, in doing so, to support the building of networks to develop language learning in schools.

At the strategic level: Hackney schools have agreed to teach the same language as the First Foreign Language in all schools; to introduce the transfer of attainment data from year 6 to year 7; link each secondary school with a group of primaries where each sector can learn from each other, in line with the recommendations of the last Ofsted Modern Languages report of January 2011. This model for developing languages can be adapted and used in other contexts, such as school federations and multi-agency Trusts.

At school level: each primary school has appointed a Subject Leader who attends regular training, develops the school policy and practice and is beginning to monitor the quality of the provision. Secondary and primary colleagues work together to ensure a high standard of delivery and outcomes.

At pupil level: attainment is high, as evidenced in the assessment data collected. Pupils are developing a deep understanding of other cultures through this work.


Objectives and opportunities

  • To share the good practice taking place in Hackney in building partnership working between primary and secondary language teachers, including  assessment and the transfer of data
  • To discuss and demonstrate the pedagogy needed to produce highly proficient linguists
  • To share successes in taking primary pupils abroad to meet their peers
  • To share Case Studies of schools who have gained Erasmus+ funding to attend courses in Europe
  • To prepare secondary colleagues to teach the new GCSE
  • To show how community, external and whole borough involvement can enrich language learning
  • To liaise with others and to build networks
  • To explore the effectiveness of using the CLIL approach (Content and Language Integrated Learning)

Who attended?

  • Local Authority personnel interested in developing a strategic approach to the teaching of languages
  • Academy Trusts and Federations working across a number of schools
  • Secondary MFL teachers
  • Primary Headteachers
  • Primary teachers who are teaching languages or interested in doing so


8.30 – Registration

9.15 – Start of conference: Hackney Primary Pupils perform in Spanish

9.30Chair’s welcome and outline of the Hackney Approach – Martin Buck, Head of Secondary at Hackney Learning Trust

Martin will explain the rationale behind the Hackney Approach to the implementation of the First Language Initiative across all Hackney primary and secondary schools. He will discuss how partnership working has been key to the success of the initiative and how the work has developed over the last 3 years. He will discuss:

  • Ways that the Hackney model can be used in other contexts
  • How primary and secondary colleagues can work together to support effective language learning
  • The types of training and coaching that can help to enhance staff skills in languages
  • How learning beyond the classroom is a key strand in developing a love of languages

9.50A Vision for Languages – Bernardette Holmes MBE – Campaign Director of Speak to the Future, a national campaign to advance language capability in the UK

Bernardette will present an optimistic vision for language development in England. She will show how the changes in the school Modern Languages curriculum from KS2 to A level will provide the opportunities for learners to become more independent and enthusiastic users of languages. She will tackle the attitude to language provision in society and show ways that this can be changed. She will allude to her recent research for the British Academy “Born Global” on the role employers can play in promoting language competence. Areas she will explore:

  • How the recent curriculum reforms can enable students to become more independent and competent users of language
  • How attitudes in society can be challenged
  • How employers can be recruited to enhance the status of language skills in the work place

10.50 – Questions and discussion

11.00 – Tea/coffee break

11.30 – Workshop session 1
Please see workshop tab

12.45 – Lunch to the accompaniment of Spanish music and displays of resources from The Spanish Embassy Education Department

13.30 – Workshop session 2
Please see workshop tab

14.45What constitutes good primary languages practice?  Evidence from the new Ofsted framework inspection reports and lesson monitoring in Hackney schools – Bernadette Clinton, MFL Consultant, Hackney Learning Trust

The introduction of languages as a statutory part of the KS2 curriculum in September 2014 was a crucial step in enabling pupils to become competent and confident users of languages.  The Ofsted report on Languages in 2011 set out recommendations for primary schools. Many primary schools have developed good practice, whilst other schools feel worried and uncertain about what is required of them. Bernadette will bring clarity to what the requirements are and what good quality language learning looks like in a primary setting, based on the evidence collected during a programme of lesson observations in Hackney schools and recent Ofsted reports. She will share:

  • Findings based on evidence collected through lesson monitoring in Hackney and recent primary Ofsted reports
  • The national picture of the implementation of primary languages
  • Strategies that teachers can use to enhance pupil progress

15.00Plan Ceibal – large scale teaching via videoconferencing – Vicky Gough, Schools Adviser at the British Council and lead for MFL and Craig Porteous, Deputy head at William Patten school, Hackney

Vicky and Craig will present information on the remote Spanish teaching programme that has been piloted at William Patten school. This pilot is based on a larger scale British Council programme teaching English in South America.  Vicky will talk about the British Council project and pilot and how schools might be able to be involved in the future.  Craig will talk about the impact the project has had in his school.

15.10 – Q and A panel discussion

15.30 – Exhibition of resources from a variety of organisations

16.00 – Close of conference

Download the full conference programme

Booking workshops

Delegates have the opportunity to book two workshops of their choice – one for the 11.30 session and one for the 13.30 session. Each workshop ran twice EXCEPT “Preparing for the new GCSE” which will be divided into parts A and B. Participants can attend both.

Workshop 1: Taking primary pupils to visit their partner school abroad: providing real language experiences
Run by Anushka Sonpal, MFL Consultant for Hackney Learning Trust and Yvonne Barnett, Headteacher, Holy Trinity Primary School, Hackney.

As part of its commitment to the successful implementation of excellent primary language learning, Hackney Learning Trust part-funded 5 schools to take year 5 pupils to visit their partner schools. At this session, Anushka and the teachers will show how this work can be developed by any school. They will show how, starting from the setting up of a partnership with an overseas school, the relationship can be developed to give a real purpose for language learning. They will also go through the practical steps that need to be taken for the visit to be successful. Participants will be able to:

  • Explore ways that strong links with a partner school abroad can be developed
  • See how thorough risk assessments and planning make it possible to successfully run visits abroad for year 5 pupils
  • Discuss how the visits impact on standards of attainment

Workshop 2: Primary Assessment Without Levels and secondary transition
Run by Bernadette Clinton, MFL Consultant for Hackney Learning Trust and Lee Callender, Head of Spanish at Our Lady’s Convent, Hackney.

Hackney schools have developed an agreed approach to Assessment Without Levels in Literacy and Numeracy. We have taken this approach and have developed a similar system in languages, starting from the Programme of Study Objectives and with a reliance on formative, observational evidence of achievement. We have taken very seriously the need for accurate attainment data to be given to the secondary schools so that they can build on prior knowledge. In this practical workshop we will share our assessment work, discuss our findings and carry out some of our assessment activities. Participants will be able to:

  • Explore the key role of joint primary-secondary partnership working in ensuring effective transfer
  • Experience some of the formal and formative assessment tasks used in Hackney primary schools
  • Share strategies for the effective transfer of data and key languages information from primary to secondary

Workshop 3: Erasmus+ funding to enhance teachers’ language skills and to develop joint projects: a Hackney Case Study
Run by Anne Roots, Manager “NLSIN, supporting global learning” with Asarena Simon, Rene Africa and Sujata Chibber from St John of Jerusalem Primary School, Hackney.

This workshop will provide an overview of the European Union Erasmus+ programme. Anne will demonstrate how schools can apply for two key school programmes. Key Action 1 funding gives grants to enable members of staff to improve their language competence and cultural understanding through attendance at study visits in European countries. Key Action 2 provides funding for running strategic projects with at least one European school. Teachers from St John of Jerusalem Primary School will talk about the KA1 study visit that they attended and how they are building on the relationship they set up with their partner school. Participants will be able to:

  • Discover how to apply for EU funding to enable staff CPD abroad and to set up projects with partner schools in Europe
  • Find out how one Hackney Primary School has developed their partnership with a Madrid school following a study visit
  • Discuss how your school can access funding to enhance your language provision

Workshop 4 A (only at 11.30): Preparing for the new GCSE Part A 
Run by Dr Rachel Hawkes, past-president of the Association for Language Learners, Associate Deputy Principal Comberton Academy Trust.

The new GCSE builds on the knowledge and skills of the Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 Programmes of Study. There is greater emphasis on enabling learners to become competent linguists who are able to develop independent study skills and language learning strategies.

In this session, we will look at practical ideas for developing the independent, creative writing and speaking skills which the new examination requires. Participants will be able to:

  • Explore activities which will support the development of “spontaneous talk”
  • Discuss how high levels of competence in speaking will support creative writing
  • Have confidence to begin teaching the new GCSE

Workshop 4 B (will only run at 13.30): Preparing for the new GCSE Part B
Run by Dr Rachel Hawkes, past-president of the Association for Language Learners, Associate Deputy Principal Comberton Academy Trust.

The new GCSE builds on the knowledge and skills of the Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 Programmes of Study. There is greater emphasis on enabling learners to become competent linguists who are able to develop independent study skills and language learning strategies.

In this session, we will explore specific elements of the new GCSE criteria, such as translation, literary text comprehension and the increased use of authentic materials. Participants will be able to:

  • Explore ways to approach translation from English into the target language
  • Develop new ways of looking at text comprehension
  • Discuss how authentic material, including resources from the internet, can enhance reading for pleasure

Workshop 5: Using community and external resources to enhance language learning
Run by Raquel Tola Rego, Teacher and Consultant for the Hackney Learning Trust; Steve Eadon, Arsenal Double Club.

This will be an interactive session where we will explore ways that learning can be supported beyond the classroom. We will share ways that we have used local resources, such as the Geffrye Museum and Sutton House (a tudor residence) to bring language learning alive. Steve from the Arsenal Double Club will demonstrate how football can be a catalyst for enthusing young learners. We will also suggest ways that your local community can become involved in events such as an Hispanic Week and how external agencies, such as the Consejería de Educación and commercial organisations can contribute to the promotion of cultural understanding. Participants will be able to:

  • Discuss ways that language-learning can be taken beyond the classroom
  • Explore how their own local facilities, organisations and community can be used to enhance language learning
  • Share strategies for encouraging students to see the importance of language learning as a life skill

Workshop 6: Language and Science: A CLIL approach in Secondary schools
Run by Concha Julián, Spanish Embassy Department of Education.

This will be an active session where examples and activities will be practised in the session. This session will deal with the use of Science materials in the Spanish language classroom. In the session we will cover some basic notions on CLIL – Content and Language Integrated Learning – and the rationale for using it at Secondary level. Participants will be able to:

  • Discover the rationale behind the CLIL approach
  • Explore ways that the CLIL approach can enhance language learning in a variety of contexts
  • Discuss ways that this can be applied to language learning in their own school

Workshop 7: First Steps in CLIL for Primary Education
Run by Jesús Manuel Hernández, Spanish Embassy Department of Education.

This workshop is aimed at primary teachers who want to learn about CLIL – Content and Language Integrated Learning – in its first stages. The workshop will cover an approach in CLIL texts through Spanish. In addition to this, we will tackle the issue of foundation and the rationale of CLIL together with the use of resources and materials in CLIL. Moreover, we will focus on a CLIL lesson plan. This input will be developed in practical and cooperative learning amongst the teachers who participate. Participants will be able to:

  • Explore the rationale for CLIL at primary level
  • Develop an understanding of ways to begin to implement elements of CLIL in the primary classroom
  • Discuss practical activities which can be used to make a start on the CLIL journey


Bernardette Holmes MBE

Bernardette was awarded an MBE for services to language teaching in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. She is uniquely placed to discuss language provision and strategies to improve language capability in England. She has been at the forefront of all major developments in the languages world over the last few decades. She recently advised the government on the recent curriculum reforms for modern languages and the drafting of the criteria for the new GCSE and A level examinations. She was a key member of CILT, the National Centre for Languages, and one of the first MFL Ofsted-trained inspectors. She is an inspirational speaker who bases her findings on thorough research and evidence. One of her areas of interest is languages and employability. In her recent report for the British Academy “Born Global” she shows how employers can play a key role in raising the status of language learning.

Martin Buck

Martin Buck works for the Hackney Learning Trust as a Leadership and Management Adviser. His strategic role as Head of Secondary and member of the HLT leadership team means that he has responsibility for the oversight and improvement of the secondary schools within the local authority, as well as working in partnership with Academy schools and the two main colleges and other post16 providers, as part of the HLT 11-19 Strategic Development Partnership.

Martin has a sustained track record of school improvement as a Head teacher, Consultant Head teacher with London Challenge and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT). Martin led his first school in Harrow through a successful re-status and re-build process and in his Newham School three successful Ofsted’s with outstanding practice recognised in each and a high quality BSF new build. His London Challenge work involved the support of a failing West London boys’ school that moved to good over a three year period. Prior to Headship he was an LA and Ofsted Inspector, having been an Advisory Teacher and DHT Curriculum. Martin has led leadership and management training, including mentoring and coaching of senior and middle leaders and governors, teaching and learning and curriculum modelling and community schooling. Martin has a long history of national training with London university partners and NGAs in the area of personal and social development and citizenship in which has published extensively.

Bernadette Clinton

Bernadette is leading the implementation of the Spanish First Language Initiative in Hackney. She began her career as the French specialist in a primary school before teaching French and Spanish at secondary level. She was for many years the MFL Adviser for Enfield and MA Education tutor at Middlesex University where she still teaches on the primary PGCE and BA Ed courses. She ran the Enfield Primary Languages Pathfinder project from 2003 – 2011. Bernadette’s degree is in Chinese.

Here’s what our attendees thought about the conference:

“It was nice to interview/hear children and to have stands with resources during break time.”

“Thank you for organising such an engaging and fantastic day.”

“Great day, very motivated to go back to school and teach Spanish.”

“This has been a fantastic and inspirational day. Great speakers and workshops and a lovely opportunity to meet other language teachers. Loved it – thank you.”