Creativity. A magic word but with so many scary connotations for school management teams across the country. And yet finally, thanks to the new KS3 curriculum, due to be rolled out with year 7 in Septermber 2008, we have a document that fosters and promotes it.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend the regional support conference for New KS3 curriculum in Bristol, led in style by Kathy Wicksteed (above). And to be honest I agree with Marie-France Perkins' rapid-fire MFL resources statement that it was "inspirational". The idea that secondary MFL can be less prescribed and more devised is a wonderful concept. With the topic of cross-curcicular work and new timetabling structures floating around the room, and Neil Jones' fantastic work on CLIL prompting excited mutterings, hopes were high. The question "what kind of linguists would yo ulike to create?" is a lofty one indeed.
However, in some ways us classroom practitioners have to remain hopeful rather than gung-ho. It will take a brave school manager to throw all the last few years worth of work out the window in favour of an uncertain future. OFSTED and league tables remain a powerful motivating force. No comment will be passed on the extent of creativity and corss-curricular work that is undertaken, nor the level of innovation implemented. That's not their job- their focus is on teaching and learning, the outcome not the thoughts behind it in many cases.
My other concern about this new movement is not about the KS3 curriculum itself, but how iot seems totally incompatible in many ways with the new KS5 plans. Here we have a KS3 heavy on culture and internationalism, and yet the upcoming implementation of a KS5 devoid of that essence of what makes the language so vibrant- the living heart of a country that surrounds it. Are we to develop oure budding linguists in KS3 only to return them to the exam factory for KS4 and 5?
However, without these concerns in my mind I excitedly headed off to my final session of the day, with Steph Hopkins. Now, I've recently learnt my lesson when it comes to conferences- don't let the last session be a disappointment. Pete Spain's session on using authentic websites and games was interesting, but in many ways preaching to the converted in my case. Steph's session, on phonics, rhythm and song, was fantastic, and had the whole room buzzing with excitement. Even if she doesn't like admitting it, Steph's a great presenter, and I thoroughly recommend trying to see one of her sessions soon!!
So there we have it, the KS3 meeting. I know that I'll be going in to nag my Headmaster during the next few days, so here's hoping that the risks he's taken so far in letting me play Web 2.0 aren't the end of it all, but merely the beginning for the whole school, finally getting rid of the factory floor in favour of a selection of coloured beanbags for our budding linguists, and learners as a whole.