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Modern Foreign Languages

Mrs Oliver MFL Lead     Andre Edwards MFL Subject Governor

Intent - What do we want children to learn?

We wish for all pupils, irrelevant of needs to learn key spoken language skills and key cultural features of Mandarin.  Following two staff members visit to China to study education and curriculum in 2017, the school consulted with all stakeholders about substituting the teaching of French to Mandarin.  Our justification was that Mandarin is the most widely spoken language worldwide with 1.3 billion speakers (as opposed to 217 million French speakers).  Mandarin is the language spoken by world leaders in business and commerce.  We wish to prepare our pupils for life in the modern world.  We are fortunate to have deployed a Mandarin teacher, direct from Beijing, linked to our visit.  Chinese culture is a popular extracurricular activity enjoyed by pupils.  Receiving secondary schools have integrated Mandarin lessons into their curriculum to support the continuation of our pupils’ learning.


Implementation - How are we going to achieve our intent?

In September 2018, we employed a Mandarin teacher as part of a government initiative set up by the British Council and Hanban (a Chinese teaching institute). As learning about the Chinese culture and Mandarin was new to the majority of pupils, regardless of age, we started all year groups off on a similar footing. The planning was then differentiated as the older classes progressed further, as to be expected.

The lessons all follow a similar pattern- firstly they involve speaking and listening, through partner work, class work and songs, then the children apply their learning by playing games or recording their work. Over the year the teacher constantly assesses the ability and understanding of the classes and plans ahead from there. The careful planning also means keys areas of learning are revisited throughout the year and also over the years, from Early Years to Year 6.


Impact - What will it look like when we have achieved our intent?

Class teachers and language teachers assess children’s work in MFL by making regular assessments as they observe them working during lessons. All pupils are encouraged to evaluate their learning and to suggest ways to progress further with their knowledge and understanding. Teachers record the progress made by children against the learning objectives for their session and use photographs for learning journals and Twitter. Teachers use these informative assessment plan the future work of the class and pupils. These records also enable the teacher to make an annual assessment of progress for each child, as part of the school’s annual report to parents. The teacher passes this information on to the next teacher at the end of each year.

There are literally hundreds of ways we can demonstrate the excellent impact our Mandarin curriculum design has on our pupils. In a nutshell here are two examples:

1. We have a bespoke Mandarin teacher from Beijing, China who was secured as part of Mr Cloke and Mrs Gray's visit to Beijing to review and compare educational practices. She teaches from EYFS through to Year 6 on a weekly basis. In the sessions the children participate in fun and exciting songs, games and activities to develop their Mandarin vocabulary, they also begin to develop spoken language and written modern Mandarin.

2. The reason the school chose Mandarin over French was three fold: 1 - China are now well established as world leaders in business and manufacture; 2 - There are approximately 76 million naive speakers of French world wide as opposed to 1.3 billion native speakers of Mandarin. Therefore we feel Mandarin is the right language for our pupils to learn for the future; 3 - The Mandarin language offers a diverse and rich culture stemming back thousands of years, that is so very different for Anglo Germanic linguistic forms which greatly inspire our pupils who love writing Mandarin.



The staff have worked tirelessly since Sept’18 on producing ‘Progression of skills,’ documents for every subject taught at Birchwood.  From Writing to Forest School skills.  These documents are kept in school and are available upon request.