OFSTED – Analysis and challenge tools for schools Guidance

OFSTED have set out a  set of tools to help support ensuring that your pupil premium is spent effectively and gives guidance for schools to show how its use is closing the gap. Different criteria for secondary and primary it focusses attention on results and the use of the money to improve English, reading, writing and maths.

Here are some highlight but it is worth having a  good look at the document in its entirety. Choose the PDF or word version from this link http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/pupil-premium-analysis-and-challenge-tools-for-schools

 The items covered are:

Analysis and challenge toolkit for school leaders: secondary

Where are the gaps in Year 11?

Where are the gaps (other year groups)?

Where are the gaps (other eligible groups)?

Reflective questions

Analysis and challenge toolkit for school leaders: primary

Where are the gaps (Year 6)?

Where are the gaps (other year groups)?

Where are the gaps (other eligible groups)?

Reflective questions

Planning and evaluation outline

Self-review questions for Governing Bodies

Below is the guidance for Secondary and primary schools re. where to look for the indicators.

Year 11: Indicator (using data from RAISEonline for 2011 and 2012, and school data for current Year 11. Definition of FSM for this purpose is the same as RAISE –those pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium under the ‘Ever 6’ measure. LAC and
service children in later section).

Data for the pupil outcomes table for Year 6 should be taken from RAISEonline.
Data for other year groups should be available from the school’s own tracking of pupils’ attainment and progress.

The following is a question raised by OFSTED about the date and indicators you have.

What does your data analysis tell you about the relative attainment and achievement
of FSM and non-FSM pupils for each year group? Are there any gaps? To what
extent are gaps closing compared with previous years’ data?

Early Years

Year 1 (consider   whether pupils are making expected progress on the basis of their Early Years   Foundation Stage score; consider the phonics screening check)
Year 2 (consider   predicted end of key stage results for reading, writing and mathematics at   each sub-level, as well as current data)Overall guidance

Pupil Premium used for: Amount allocated to the intervention / action(£) Is this a new or continued activity/cost centre?  Brief summary of the intervention or action, including details of   year groups and pupils involved, and the timescale Specific intended outcomes: how will this intervention or action   improve achievement for pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium? What will it   achieve if successful? How will this activity be monitored, when and by whom? How will   success be evidenced? Actual impact: What did the action or activity actually achieve? Be   specific: ‘As a   result of this action…’
If you plan   to repeat this activity, what would you change to improve it next time?

Self-review questions for Governing Bodies
Governors’ knowledge and awareness
1. Have leaders and governors considered research and reports about what works to inform their decisions about how to spend the Pupil Premium?
2. Do governors know how much money is allocated to the school for the Pupil Premium? Is this identified in the school’s budget planning?
3. Is there a clearly understood and shared rationale for how this money is spent and what it should achieve? Is this communicated to all stakeholders including parents?
4. Do governors know how the school spends this money? What improvements has the allocation brought about? How is this measured and reported to governors and parents via the school’s website (a new requirement)?
5. If this funding is combined with other resources, can governors isolate and check on the impact of the funding and ascertain the difference it is making?
6. Do governors know whether leaders and managers are checking that the actions are working and are of suitable quality?
Leaders and managers’ actions
1. Do the school’s improvement/action plans identify whether there are any issues in the performance of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium?
2. Do the actions noted for improving outcomes for Pupil Premium pupils:
 give details of how the resources are to be allocated?
 give an overview of the actions to be taken?
 give a summary of the expected outcomes?
 identify ways of monitoring the effectiveness of these actions as they are ongoing and note who will be responsible for ensuring that this information is passed to governors?
 explain what will be evaluated at the end of the action and what measures of success will be applied?
3. Is the leader responsible for this area of the school’s work identified?
4. How do governors keep an ongoing check on these actions and ask pertinent questions about progress ahead of any summary evaluations?
5. Are the progress and outcomes of eligible pupils identified and analysed by the school’s tracking systems? Is this information reported to governors in a way that enables them to see clearly whether the gap in the performance of eligible pupils and other pupils is closing?
Pupils’ progress and attainment
1. Does the summary report of RAISEonline show that there are any gaps in performance between pupils who are eligible for free school meals and those who are not at the end of key stages? (Look at the tables on the previous pages of this document for some indicators to consider)
2. Do the school’s systems enable governors to have a clear picture of the progress and attainment of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium in all year groups across the school, not just those at the end of key stages?
3. If there are gaps in the attainment of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium and those who are not, are eligible pupils making accelerated progress – are they progressing faster than the expected rate – in order to allow the gaps to close? Even if all pupils make expected progress this will not necessarily make up for previous underperformance.
4. Is the school tracking the attendance, punctuality and behaviour (particularly exclusions) of this group and taking action to address any differences?
Overall, will governors know and be able to intervene quickly if outcomes are not improving in the way that they want them to?

There is also a good document giving examples of good practice at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/pupil-premium-how-schools-are-spending-funding-successfully-maximise-achievement

Hope this helps if you have any ideas to share with others where you have used it successfully please add comments.

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Pembrokeshire County Council’s education services for children and young people have been judged to be unsatisfactory

JFI news report

17 December 2012

Pembrokeshire County Council’s education services for children and young people have been judged to be unsatisfactoryin an Estyn report published today. As a result of this report, Estyn has recommended to Welsh Ministers that the authority be placed in the category of an authority requiring special measures.

The ‘Report on the quality of local authority education services for children and young people in Pembrokeshire County Council’ identifies important shortcomings in leadership of the authority’s education services. It states that corporate leaders and senior elected members have been too slow to recognise key issues in safeguarding and to change the culture in, and improve, education services. The report also finds that the authority’s arrangements for supporting and challenging schools are not robust enough and have not had enough impact on improving outcomes.

The Estyn inspection team was joined by inspectors from the Wales Audit Office (WAO) and from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). The inspection also involved taking into consideration evidence from the joint recent investigation work by CCSIW and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) into Pembrokeshire. Estyn also took evidence from the WAO in relation to their ‘Special Inspection – Implementation of Safeguarding Arrangements in Pembrokeshire County Council’ which is published by Wales Audit Office today.

The Estyn inspection followed up on a similar inspection of the local authority’s education services for children and young people carried out in June 2011 which recommended that Pembrokeshire was placed in the category of being in need of significant improvement, due to shortcomings in the important areas of safeguarding and corporate governance.

“Teachers have an amazing opportunity to look at parallels between the education systems of New Zealand and Wales.

Following from post about the New Zealand teachers coming to look at the bilingual system in Wales, they are now here and will be looking at the similarities and differences between the two systems. It will be a unique opportunity for them to see the good practice in both and use this knowledge to improve language learning and bilingual education so I for one will be keeping a close eye on the results.

“The opportunity to swap stories, compare approaches, and form networks makes this an invaluable exchange for those charged with empowering the next generation of first language speakers in both countries.”

Some of the highlights of the report are below.

“I tailor my reo to suit, so for a child who has English as a second language and is new to New Zealand it could be less than for a Maori child who speaks some reo at home,” she said.

“Some kohanga reo [pre-school classes] only take children who speak reo at home so learning between kohanga and home can be consolidated.

Nichola McCall, 27, from Manurewa High School, Auckland, who is making her first
visit to Wales, said: “I want to speak to community leaders, principals and
teachers in Wales and find out how they manage to get that equality between the
two languages.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-19757643

Being able to bridge the language barrier can save lives and money

Whether you speak one, two or more languages in critical situations it is more important whether you understand one, two or more languages and can communicate.  Whether this is by using the support of translation engines like EMASUK, or interpreters, the most important factor in my view will always be the safety of the child or patient. This is clearly easier to see within the world of  medicine where being able to find with clarity the problem to diagnose quickly and correctly is critical. This is also appropriate in schools where safeguarding, disclosure and again medical information needs to be transmitted from one person to another.

It was therefore nice to see this comment in the Red Orbit News:

Having bilingual staff to serve as medical interpreters can help prevent unnecessary testing and misdiagnosis. And clear, culturally sensitive communication can help produce greater patient compliance, satisfaction and improved health outcomes,” said Firoozeh Vali, PhD, NJHA’s vice president of research.

It’s like when I go to another town, I don’t know Spanish, I can’t talk to anyone, I have no voice.”

It’s like when I go to another town, I don’t know Spanish, I can’t talk to anyone, I have no voice.”

How would you feel if this happened to you.  Competent to speak to friends and neighbours in one area of our global world and suddenly unable to communicate on reaching another town or village.

This is an interesting news article that explores the school experiences of children and teachers who speak an indigenous language.

http://www.younglives.org.uk/what-we-do/news-and-events/news-archive/intercultural-bilingual-education-a-public-policy-priority

Intercultural Bilingual Education: a public policy priority
Research from Young Lives on the uses and attitudes towards Spanish and native languages in rural public schools was presented in Lima on 16 August, by the researcher Elizabeth Rosales. Her work explores the school experiences of children and teachers who speak an indigenous language. It is based on a language test and in-depth interviews with children, their mothers and teachers. Rosales found that although a large proportion of both the children and their teachers were highly competent in the indigenous language, Spanish was mainly used by both of them in school. Teachers used their knowledge of the indigenous language primarily to ensure that the children learned better Spanish, rather than using the children’s native language as the medium of instruction.

“Spanish is highly valued as it is useful for children to continue to higher levels of education and to find work in the future” Rosales commented. She found consistent with previous research that parents prefer not to register their children in bilingual schools and do not expect better quality from those schools. Their attitude to their own native language can be attributed to a fear that their children will be stigmatised or they will lose opportunities to become completely fluent in Spanish.

Following the presentation, Elena Burga (Director General for Intercultural Bilingual and Rural Education within the Ministry of Education) and Madeleine Zúñiga (Vice President of the Foro Educativo), lead the discussion.

Madeleine Zúñiga emphasised that indigenous children have the right to receive an education in their own language. “They have the right to learn in their mother tongue… but what about the right to learn good Spanish?” she asked.

Elana Burga confirmed that the Government has allocated more resources to schools that offer bilingual and intercultural education, and that attitudes to indigenous languages and cultures are changing. However, she acknowledged that basic public services in indigenous areas – including many health centres, police stations and the courts – do not have access to sufficient interpreters. She added that more bilingual schools, better teaching materials, better training for new teachers, are all needed in order to reach all children. “Our aim is that all children should be able to learn in both languages,” Burga said, adding for this to be achievable will require efforts not just from government, but also civil society and researchers.

Read more about the event on the Niños del Milenio website [in Spanish]
Bilingual Education in Peru: Read the policy paper by Elizabeth Rosales [in Spanish]

I’m a strong believer of having the kids maintain their first language “I witnessed [my children’s] learning curve and process.… I knew how their experience was with ESOL,” she said. “I think that I knew how to help the kids be successful.”

This is one parents view of how her children learnt English and the subsequent experiences of using these experiences to become an ESOL teacher.  Really interesting are her views that are not dissimilar to many parents but also her view of the types of bilingual education and that every teacher should be an ESOL teacher.

Find it at http://www.nationaljournal.com/thenextamerica/education/maryland-county-is-at-the-intersection-of-diversity-culture-and-language-20120727

When Yu-Ying Huang emigrated from Taiwan in 1989 with her two children, then 7 and 10, she saw firsthand what it was like for students from other lands to learn English, inspiring her career to teach English as a second language.

She’s been teaching ESOL at secondary schools for 12 years, currently at Northwest High School in Silver Spring, Md., part of the Montgomery County Public School system. MCPS arguably touts the most diverse student body in Maryland

“I witnessed [my children’s] learning curve and process.… I knew how their experience was with ESOL,” she said. “I think that I knew how to help the kids be successful.”.

An MCPS student has about a 7-in-10 chance of running into another student of a different race or ethnicity, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Like other school districts across America, MCPS’s diversity is its best asset – but also its biggest challenge.

Resources are tight; budget shortfalls grow more limiting at the same time that diversity grows. Across the nation, educators are expected to shape the minds of more than 49 million kids in an environment where nearly one in five speaks another language at home.

“For us it’s always looking for creative ways to bridge the linguistic divide and to be able to serve students who speak so many different languages,” said Karen Woodson, director for the Division of ESOL/Bilingual Programs.

About a third of the student body identifies as non-Hispanic white; the other two-thirds identify as students of color. Of the more than 146,000 students, 13.1 percent are English speakers of another language. Together, the student body represents 160 countries and 130 languages.

For Huang, the biggest challenge has been to find ways to bridge the culture gap between herself and her students.

It can be a “daily struggle” to find the balance between allowing students to help one another in their native tongue while encouraging social interactions in English, she said. But seeing them making progress makes the effort worth it.

Huang, who speaks fluent Chinese and also Spanish and French, recalled a presentation by students in a Level 4 class, the second-most advanced ESOL tier. Some were students she had taught years before when they couldn’t speak a word of English.

“I was almost crying, because I could see how much progress they had made,” she said, later adding, “I just see that if a kid can put in effort … they can still be successful.”

While students with less English proficiency are taught in a separate class, Woodson emphasized the importance of collaboration between ESOL and mainstream teachers, recognizing that integration of language in classrooms is essential.

As America’s melting-pot tradition increasingly blends more languages and cultures, it’s easy for young students to begin embracing all things English–subsequently risking the loss of their native tongue.

According to a recent survey, two-thirds of Hispanics aged 18 to 29 say they prefer to speak only or mostly in English.

Most of the county’s ESOL students are U.S.-born Spanish speakers, Woodson said.

Huang said she supported her students’ efforts to keep their native language as they learn English.

“I’m a strong believer of having the kids maintain their first language,” she said. “When I teach my own two kids, I do not speak English to them even though they’re here and were learning English. We just keep speaking Chinese at home.”

Educators are quick to mention various studies, which in sum find that bilingual children have more cognition skills, including including logistical thinking and multitasking.

In the battle to preserve heritage, other schools of thought have emerged to teach English-language learners.

Dual-language schools were formed to help ESOL students preserve their native language while giving English-speaking students a chance to become fluent in a second tongue. Supporters maintain that learning in two languages boosts academic achievement, but schools across Maryland have been slow to adopt dual-language programs. Finding only two in the state, a 2009 state task force recommended 10 more programs be created by 2012.

In the MCPS system, Kemp Mill Elementary in Silver Spring is the only school that offers a dual-language program it. It is not part of the county’s ESOL division. Half of its students speak English, while the other half speak Spanish. Instruction is in both languages.

“A lot of people look at bilingual programs in general as being wonderful because they’re helping the student maintain their heritage language,” said Floyd Starnes, the school’s principal. “But what the general public doesn’t know … is that their English is better.”

Critics of the program say that bilingual schools encourage students to rely on their native tongue rather than becoming fluent in English. Some others also say it’s an unnecessary drain from struggling education budgets.

Montgomery County, however, has a unique position as one of the wealthiest counties in the state. Nationally, it slides into 12th place with a median household income of $89,155, according to a D.C. radio station’s breakdown of Census data. (WTOP.)

In contrast, Allegany County in western Maryland has a median household income of $37,083, and to the east, Baltimore City is at $38,186, according to census data.

This past year, MCPS spent $44.5 million, or 2 percent of its budget, on ESOL. It expects to spend about $48.7 million next year, according to the state Office of Management, Budget and Planning.

The combination of a racially diverse population and the county’s affluence is slowly changing the landscape of the suburban county. Woodson says that the ESOL department has noticed, and it’s been making changes in anticipation of growing foreign-born populations and their children.

“They used to say that every teacher is a reading teacher,” Woodson said. “But it’s getting clearer that … every teacher is an ESOL teacher.”

Parents “hiding” or suppressing their native tongue so as to defend their children from vicious racism has caused the widespread social tragedy of heritage language loss.

Some interesting background information into immigration particularly in Bedford, Canada in the 19th Century and its impact in the 21st Century. How many other countries have similar needs to this where they have needed extra personnel and encourage global mobility for job fulfillment then years later forget about it. What is interesting as in the blog a few days ago it actively says that:

Parents “hiding” or suppressing their native tongue so as to defend their children from vicious racism has caused the widespread social tragedy of heritage language loss.

This is still happening in so many educational places rather than celebrating the differences such a shame for the children, the parents and the language.

If you are interested in the full article here it is.

Your View: Esperanza prospectus a return to city’s bilingual education heritage
By The Rev. Marc Fallon
The Rev. Marc Fallon works in the office of Catholic Social Services in New Bedford. He is a member of United Interfaith Action.

New Bedford’s economic history suggests that current employment dislocations and the need for recalibration of job skills are cyclical. As the whaling era ended in the late 19th century, New Bedford was among the many New England cities receiving migrants to staff the labor-intensive textile mills. While Poles, Irish, Italians, Azoreans, Cape Verdeans and Portugese crossed the Atlantic, local descendants of Francophone Quebecois continental migrants continue to remember and celebrate their forebears’ many contributions. They valued their faith, culture and language, developing a remarkably successful bilingual education system that graduated English-speaking textile workers and workers in many other positions and professions. Yet as we recall the cultural divide between local power brokers and immigrant textile workers of a century ago, it challenges credulity that the city would ignore the wishes of Latino parents for the highest quality education for their children.

As much as the Canadian 1867 Confederation sought to defend minority rights regionally, the Quebecois were ready to respond to the labor opportunities in New England textile factories. The new workers arrived with an ingrained distrust of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant power cartel they knew in Montreal and apparently transferred this to the local establishment. Deposit their paychecks in Anglo banks? Hardly. The viability of St. Anne’s Federal Credit Union today reminds of the financial institutions that emerged from Catholic parish basements in Fall River, Biddeford and throughout New England. The Francophone Catholic clergy journeyed here in sufficient numbers to staff the “national” parishes. The community placed paramount importance on the bilingual parish schools that would propagate the faith, teach cultural traditions and prepare students for their working careers. I know this because my ancestors in the Congregation of Holy Cross did the teaching.

St. Anthony of Padua Parish opened their school in September 1896 to 300 students before the parish’s first anniversary. Ten years later, 900 students studied in a facility with 14 classrooms and the building now housing the Global Learning Charter School opened in 1924. As the women and men of the Congregations of Holy Cross rebuilt schools in the aftermath of the French revolution, they also traveled with economic migrants to South Bend, Ind., Saint-Laurent, Quebec and elsewhere in North America. Les Soeurs de Sainte-Croix arrived in New Bedford and staffed St. Anthony’s school with two sections for each year K-8, with one section studying in French while their counterparts learned in English during the morning and reversing the curriculum for the afternoon. It appears that catechesis, the history of Canada, and French language and literature built upon the first language of the students (no doubt appeasing parents concerned about foreign cultural influences in the new land) while math, science, geography, U.S. history and English grammar increasingly brought the eighth-grade graduates to full bilingual competency before entering high school.

A century has passed, and the Vatican II Council and countless social changes have taken place in the interim. The 2010 census cries out to us that 17 percent of the city is Latino, a population of internal migrants of the Americas with tremendous similarities to the social characteristics of the Quebecois textile workers. While Catholic religious life is in a very different place than a century ago, a new generation of committed educators and social activists see clearly the local social inequities. Still, one cannot help but be struck by the structural indifference to the educational needs of this population on the part of those elected to serve them.

United Interfaith Action supports the Esperanza School of Language and Culture Prospectus for an Innovation School. Beginning with three grades of K-2, this school would teach students with Latino parents (English Language Learners) in both English and Spanish throughout the school day, eventually developing a K-8 model. This proposal relates to young bilingual students in appreciation of their linguistic and cultural capital, as opposed to the myopic and misanthropic power structure that would track the children to nothing beyond the low-wage jobs of their parents. Parents “hiding” or suppressing their native tongue so as to defend their children from vicious racism has caused the widespread social tragedy of heritage language loss.

The reactionary anti-immigrant xenophobes won their referendum against the state bilingual education program 10 years ago and then skipped town, leaving a vulnerable population with no support. To document that only 36 percent of ELL students are progressing in English language acquisition is to witness a profound social disaster. One must wonder if those in City Hall who discuss education ever speak with those concerned with economic development. Who could cross the present chasm?

We the clergy and faithful members of United Interfaith Action urge that the School Committee adopt the Esperanza School of Language and Culture Prospectus for an Innovation School in testament to the invaluable heritage of bilingual education in New Bedford and the genuine hope it offers for Latino students and parents.

Bilingualism wasn’t always perceived to be an advantage

Bilingualism wasn’t always perceived to be an advantage, says Johanne Paradis, a linguistics professor at the University of Alberta. She says that in the past, many new immigrants preferred to keep their heritage under wraps so their kids could assimilate more smoothly into Canadian culture.

In the UK many parents of new arrivals tell us teachers that we must make sure they only speak English.   As you know from this blog I feel this is a shame because they have learnt previously just with another set of words and sounds. This not only happens with those from abroad but those from inside the UK i.e. like my daughter who moved from Wales to England having had her previous teaching and learning in English. They can then be taught really slowly so they get bored, not always the case I know but it happens more than we choose to admit. So it is really nice to read that bilingual programmes can work. It should give all of the bilingual converts hope.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/life/Mandarin+bilingual+program+links+students+their+heritage/7032777/story.html

Tsang, an immigrant from Hong Kong, has been living in Canada for the past three decades. He speaks mostly Cantonese Chinese and English. But his daughter Megan and his son Michael are trilingual, fluent in English and both Cantonese and Mandarin, two dialects of Chinese.

“I’m really content,” says Tsang, the vice-president of the Edmonton Chinese Bilingual Education Association, a parents’ group dedicated to bringing Mandarin into local public schools. “English is still their first tongue, and my kids still talk to each other in English, but … they can switch back and forth from Mandarin and Cantonese.”

Tsang’s children have been enrolled in a bilingual English and Mandarin program in the Edmonton public school system since they were in kindergarten. Megan, 16, is now in Grade 11 at Ross Sheppard High School, and Michael, 12, is in Grade 8 at Parkview School.

Although Tsang and his wife speak Cantonese Chinese, they didn’t hesitate to enrol their kids in the Mandarin program. Now, more than a decade later, Tsang says he doesn’t regret their choice because he’s confident his kids have retained something of their heritage.

“Our Chinese background is important to us,” he says. “Both my wife and I were educated in Hong Kong, so we studied classic literature. And there are translations, but some of the meaning is lost in translation … We wanted to be able to share something like (this) with our children.”

Between the three languages, the Tsangs usually stick to Cantonese at home, but Tsang says his kids know they’re about to get a lecture when he slips into English with them.

“When I talk to them in English, they know they’re in trouble,” says Tsang with a chuckle.

Families such as the Tsangs are becoming increasingly common, with more and more households giving their children a bilingual education in a language other than French.

The Edmonton public school system offers seven programs for students who want to learn Arabic, American Sign Language, Chinese, German, Hebrew, Spanish and Ukrainian, with about 4,100 students registered for these programs in 2011. The Catholic board also offers bilingual programs in Spanish, Ukrainian and Polish, with about 1,400 students.

The Mandarin bilingual program alone has spread to 12 public schools in Edmonton, making up roughly half of the public school’s bilingual student population. And delegates from as far away as Finland have come to visit and take pointers on setting up a similar system in their own country, says Peter Wong, the former president of the Chinese bilingual association.

Yet bilingualism wasn’t always perceived to be an advantage, says Johanne Paradis, a linguistics professor at the University of Alberta. She says that in the past, many new immigrants preferred to keep their heritage under wraps so their kids could assimilate more smoothly into Canadian culture.

“I do think the broader social and political shift … all began with the (Royal) Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism at the end of the 1960s. That set the stage for multiculturalism,” Paradis says.

 

 

Canada’s Airports to be audited for bilingualism

Todays news story is from Canada where they have a watchdog who will be undercover checking that people have support in English and French.

All airports that serve more than one million passengers a year must provide services in both English and French.

 

The commissioner will check if signs are in both official languages, if staff offer a bilingual greeting to travellers and if services are available in French in predominantly English-speaking parts of the country and in English in French-speaking parts

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1238654–canada-s-language-watchdog-going-undercover-at-eight-major-airports

OTTAWA—Canada’s bilingualism watchdog is going undercover at eight major airports to see if travellers are served equally well in English and French.

Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser says his office will conduct more than 1,500 anonymous observations this fall at airports in Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

He says audits of some of those airports have been done in the past, but this will be the first time so many are done at once.

“I’ve been interested in the language rights of the travelling public really throughout my mandate,” Fraser said Wednesday.

“So at different times, we’ve been looking at different aspects of what the traveller’s experience is. We’ve looked at border services, we’ve done an audit of Air Canada’s service to the public, and now we’re looking at airports.”

All airports that serve more than one million passengers a year must provide services in both English and French.

The commissioner will check if signs are in both official languages, if staff offer a bilingual greeting to travellers and if services are available in French in predominantly English-speaking parts of the country and in English in French-speaking parts.

Past audits have resulted in airports becoming more bilingual, Fraser said, pointing to airport bookstores adding French titles to their shelves, or tuning television sets by the baggage carousels to channels in both languages.

The commissioner’s office says the project will include observations of Air Canada’s services on the ground and in the air on flights designated as bilingual.

“We get a lot of complaints about Air Canada,” Fraser said.

“Often there are complaints about announcements that are not made in both languages, services that are not given by personnel. It’s often directed at Air Canada, but sometimes it also applies to the airport authorities themselves.”

It will also look at the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s third-party services in security areas.

The commissioner’s office will share its recommendations with the airports after it finishes the survey.

“Once people are aware that this is what they should be doing, they’re often pretty good and pretty imaginative in creating an environment in which both languages are seen and heard.”