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Ofsted highlights English and MFL good practice in sixth form colleges

Ofsted released a new report today which identifies good practice in English and Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) provision in Colleges. The key findings highlight the factors contributing to raising standards for learners with a focus on developing skills in the most innovative of ways.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said: "When it comes to learning a modern language or fully appreciating the English language, engaging students’ curiosity and stimulating debate will always be the key. This report serves to prove that in the best teaching, helping students to really live the language is key."

Inspectors compiled case studies from a sample of visits to 18 colleges where provision was rated good or outstanding. The inspections took place between November 2007 and April 2008.

The findings indicate the following key factors that contributed to raising standards:

  • Imaginative use of information learning technology to promote independent learning; examples include the careful selection of You-Tube clips to understand modern cultural issues, learners were also encouraged to use video conferencing to speak to their peers in Europe.

  • Good skills development through theatre trips and study visits to locations relevant to learners’ studies.

  • Provision designed to meet the needs and interests of learners. One community college, for example, had strong links with a large number of employers in the local area, and offered appropriate, highly focused language training in the workplace. Another institution had productive European work experience links with France and Germany.

  • Good teamwork with teachers collaborating on the production of resources, and in the case of MFL an effective use of foreign language assistants helped learners and teachers to sharpen their language skills.

Based on its findings, Ofsted offers a list of recommendations to further improve the quality of provision. As unity is strength, the recommendations are aimed at Colleges, but also at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). Ofsted urged them to:

  • "Increase opportunities for learners to gain internationally recognised qualifications in modern foreign languages.

  • Help colleges deal with the shortage of teachers for some modern foreign languages.

  • Address the fact that, despite successfully completing GCSEs in languages at school, many learners require particular support to develop the language skills required to study foreign languages at advanced level."

Solange Berchemin

Pictured: Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector


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