The National Curriculum was put into place in 1988 to ensure each student received a certain standard of education across various subjects. Designed to outline a clear structure on how children should be taught, a number of inequalities were discovered within the education system across Britain. Having something like a National Curriculum in place meant that students received the same education, not only in core subjects but also in other available areas of study.
In order to continue a high standard of teaching and available education for children of various ages, the National Curriculum is often updated and improved. Both lesson content and methods of assessment are changed to ensure the system is constantly evolving, and in September 2014 more changes were proposed.
These changes often apply to primary and secondary education, covering key stages 2 and 3, but exam boards such as AQA can also put changes into place that can affect students studying for their GCSE and A-Level qualifications.
Studying a foreign language
Sparking an interest in learning a different language is something that can come from a young age, and so for schools to offer the opportunity is critical. As such, the National Curriculum has been improved and updated so that teaching a foreign language continues to be at a high standard.
Key stage 2 curriculum
The focus for students aged between 7-11 should be on enabling students to make considerable progress in a language, laying foundations for further foreign language teaching in key stage 3. Studying a foreign language from Years 3-6, or primary school, provides a focus on practical communication for modern languages. If an ancient language is chosen, then a linguistic foundation for reading comprehension and an appreciation of classical civilisation should be the main aims of teaching.
Pupils should be taught a range of skills that can be built on further, such as showing an understanding through joining in and responding, and exploring patterns or sounds of a language through songs and rhymes; linking spelling, sound and meaning.
Of course, one of the best ways to solidify your learning is to visit countries such as France or Germany and have the opportunity to use your skills first hand.
Key stage 3 curriculum
For students aged 11-14, modern foreign languages should work on the basics taught in the previous key stage. Focusing on the breadth and depth of a pupil’s competence when it comes to listening, speaking, reading and writing, pupils should be able to express personal and factual communication that goes beyond needs and interests.
The pupil should be able to speak the language with increased spontaneity and more independence, through working on grammar, vocabulary and general linguistic competence.
AQA announced it would offer the opportunity to study more languages, starting from 2017. These included Bengali, Italian, Modern Hebrew, Polish and Urdu. The exam board also announced that a new way of assessing modern foreign languages would change too. Reading, writing, listening and speaking will all be assessed in equal measures, worth 25% each of the student’s overall grade; this means speaking assessment will continue to contribute towards the final grade.
These changes are due to happen in 2016 for German, French and Spanish, while all other languages will be improved for 2017. Planning a trip to places such as Paris will surround you with the culture and language is sure to help your efforts when learning.
One of the ways to maximize learning and provide a unique experience for your students is to take them on an interactive, educational trip. This will provide learning outside of the classroom and expose students to the language first hand. Companies that organise such trips will ensure any excursions complement the National Curriculum, such as Adaptable Travel.