LLantarnam School in Special measures – Why?

I read with interest and dismay about Llantarnam School being in special measures and wonder where did it all go wrong? Surely the educational choices of management over the years have led to this insecurity of both pupils and staff. This did not just happen overnight and those in authority must have been aware of the failings, just looking at recent data should have sent alarm bells ringing.  Where were the Local Authority advisers? Where was the support of the teachers, head and governors in the previous years to stop this slide from happening?

Perhaps I write with rose-coloured glasses but as a product of Llantarnam school and its then wonderful teachers I am disappointed by the educationists within the system as they let this happen. It has always been in the Croesy is a much better school – left over from the old grammar system – battle despite being the first comprehensive. This immediately makes the learners and I suspect teachers feel it they are second best – yet they can shine as I know.

Recently I applied to help and support the Welsh assembly via their system leaders but lost out in the first stages so at that point immediately wondered what they were looking for. I might not be the best candidate but I can offer having being asked twice to help to successfully turn around a school in special measures with not dissimilar problems to Llantarnam.  In the past I helped other school out of difficulties and departments improve practice all successfully and with praise from LA and HMI. Currently I work part-time with my husband and his translation company but have kept helping schools with good practice on my free days as well as directing, organising and developing the Primary Language Awards of which I ensured Welsh was an inclusion and its own category. NB Entries are currently open for schools to enter and each category winner receives £500 of langauge resources. www.languageawards.com

Yet having such experiences meant I didn’t even get an interview, maybe they feel my other work is a conflict of interest but it my mind it clearly isn’t, for me its a daily reminder of the difficulties learners have in school with literacy and my first experiences as a teacher. How many other educationalist have first hand experience of successfully turning around schools and still want to achieve it for others… I suspect not many.  I made the decision years ago not to become a head but preferring instead to offer support to those school labelled as unsatisfactory.  The reason being that either OFSTED or ESTYN quite rightly made their judgements but no one then wanted to help.  LA staff whose job it should have been just pulled away and began pointing the finger whilst school staff and pupils were left demoralised like ‘billy no mates’.

When at Llantarnam I was inspired by my teachers from my form tutor Mr Harrison who also played cricket, and Terry Cobner who played a bit of rugby  through to my history teacher who became a pastoral leader later in her career, geography teacher who later became a head. I was even blessed with one term of Ken Jones teaching me and the class poetry…I dont think many of my class liked poetry but he said he liked my poems and writing so hopefully he will be looking down on thsi and smiling and saying as he did then …if you think it write it… and I remember it fondly. I was the first to get a GOLD Duke of Edinburgh award and although at the time in sixth form not knowing what I wanted to achieve I was allowed to do woodwork and Mr Jarvis my 5th form form tutor tested me on wiring a plug, changing a  washer and similar things.  I was only ever nurtured on the unconventional things I liked like the discus in PE and not liking food technology.

It will be no surprise then that in later life after getting annoyed because the boys wouldn’t let me saw the piece of wood they always wanted to help…love them, my dad always let me use wood but watched like a hawk and if I wanted to use metal not understanding my interest in welding but my grandfather letting me play in the shed I trained to become one of the first design technology teachers wood, metal, plastic, control and textiles. Not an easy feat as even in teacher training at Croesy, Bettws and Llantarnam I kept getting offers to do food technology whilst I was confident to do what felt right education wise, I was never a great speaker and this is still something that everyday I struggle with and didn’t get my NQT job at Llantarnam because I got very tongue-tied.  It takes a while for people to get used to me but through a mix of my mentoring and my willingness and ability to achieve especially where there is a struggle involved and the willingness to show practically what the theory means in the classroom means that over time I have become respected within my field of support.

I wish the new person overseeing it from Croydon well and will read with interest the developments in the next months. I only hope that they do not underestimate the desperation of staff not sure they are doing a good job and the risk of them leaving, parents taking children out to another school leading to a more falling role means that it is a task that will take years rather than months to improve. What it needs is a clear vision, a charged up and interested staff that can get help without feeling they are inadequate and positive experiences by the pupils which will feed interest and success vibes into the parents and community.

And finally to the Welsh Government, Torfaen LA and the schools governors before you start being negative about all the practice remember:

  • there are some really good ones that need pulling through and building on
  • each child every day is their first it cannot be regained further down the line they must get the best education that the teacher can give that day
  •  From a management point of view ‘no one gets up to do a bad job, but circumstances and policies in the day to day running lead to the best not always being achieved’.
  • If you look out to find the worst and always talk about that and not balance it with the successes it will always be a failing school for all within it.

see the full report here http://www.torfaen.gov.uk/en/News/2012/November/21-Council-response-to-Llantarnam-Estyn-inspection.aspx

Thank You in lots of languages

Found this brill site where everyone can help and collaborate with words.  Here is Thank you in lots of languages.

find more at http://www.freelang.net/


ALBANIAN faleminderit
ARABIC chokrane
ARABIC (TUNISIAN) Barak Allahu fiik
ARMENIAN chnorakaloutioun
AZERI çox sag olun / tesekkur edirem
BAMBARA a ni kié
BASQUE eskerrik asko (southern basque) / milesker (northern basque)
BELARUSIAN Дзякую (dziakuju)
BENGALI dhanyabaad
BISHLAMAR tangio tumas
BOBO a ni kié
BRETON trugéré / trugaré / trugarez
BULGARIAN мерси (merci) / благодаря (blagodaria)
BURMESE (thint ko) kyay tzu tin pa te
CATALAN gràcies
CEBUANO salamat
CHECHEN Баркал (barkal)
CHINESE xièxie
CZECH děkuji / díky
DARI tashakor
DOGON gha-ana / birepo
DUALA na som
DUTCH dank u wel (formal) / dank je (informal)
ENGLISH thank you
ESTONIAN tänan / tänan väga (thank you very much)
EWÉ akpé
FANG akiba
FAROESE takk fyri
FIDJIAN vinaka
FINNISH kiitos
FRENCH merci
FRISIAN dankewol
FRIULAN gracie
GALICIAN gracias / graciñas
GALLO merkzi
GEORGIAN დიდი მადლობა (didi madloba)
GERMAN danke
GREEK ευχαριστώ (efharisto)
GUARANÍ aguyjé
HINDI dhanyavad
HUNGARIAN köszönöm
INDONESIAN terima kasih
IRISH GAELIC go raibh maith agat (to 1 person) / go raibh maith agaibh (to several people)
ITALIAN grazie
JAPANESE arigatô
KABYLIAN tanemirt
KANNADA dhanyavadagalu
KAZAKH rahmet
KHMER akun
KIKONGO matondo
KIRUNDI murakoze
KOREAN 감사합니다 (gamsa hamnida)
KRIO tenki
KYRGYZ Рахмат (rahmat)
LAO khob chai (deu)
LARI matondo
LATIN gratias ago (from 1 pers.) gratias agimus (from X pers.)
LATVIAN paldies
LINGALA matondi
LOW SAXON bedankt / dank ju wel
MACEDONIAN blagodaram
MALAGASY misaotra
MALAY terima kasih
MALTESE niżżik ħajr / grazzi / nirringrazzjak
MAORI kia ora
MARATHI aabhari aahe / aabhar / dhanyavaad
MICMAC welalin
MONGOLIAN bayarlalaa (Баярлалаа)
MORÉ barka
OCCITAN mercé / grandmercé
OJIBWE miigwetch
OSSETIAN бузныг [buznyg]
PASCUAN mauruuru
PASHTO manana
PERSIAN motashakkeram, mamnun (formal) / mochchakkeram, mamnun, mersi (informal)
POLISH dziękuję
PORTUGUESE obrigado (M speaking) / obrigada (F speaking)
PUNJABI sukriya
QUECHUA sulpáy
ROMANI najis tuke
ROMANIAN mulţumesc
RUSSIAN спасибо (spacibo)
SAMOAN faafetai lava
SARDINIAN gratzias
SCOTTISH GAELIC tapadh leat (singular, familiar) tapadh leibh (plural, respectful)
SERBIAN хвала (hvala)
SESOTHO ke ya leboha
SHIMAORE marahaba
SHONA waita (plural: maita)
SINDHI meharbani
SINHALA stuutiyi
SLOVAK ďakujem
SOBOTA hvala
SOMALI waad mahadsantahay
SONINKÉ nouari
SPANISH gracias
SWAHILI asante / asante sana
TAGALOG salamat (po)
TAHITIAN mauruuru
TAJIK rahmat
TAMIL nandri
TATAR rahmat
TELUGU dhanyavadalu
THAI ขอบคุณค่ะ (kop khun kha) – woman speaking ขอบคุณครับ (kop khun krap) – man speaking
TIGRINYA yekeniele
TONGA tualumba
TORAJA kurre sumanga
TURKISH teşekkür ederim / sagolun
UKRAINIAN дякую (diakuiu)
URDU shukriya
UYGHUR rahmat
UZBEK rahmat
WALLISIAN malo te ofa
WALOON (“betchfessîs” spelling) gråces / merci thank you very much : gråces (merci) traze côps, gråces (merci) beacôp
WELSH diolch
WOLOF djiere dieuf
XHOSA enkosi
YAQUI kettu’i
YIDDISH a dank
YORUBA o sheun
ZULU ngiyabonga (literally means : I give thanks) siyabonga (= we give thanks) ngiyabonga kakhulu (thanks very much)

Language Information point Speaker Catherine Cheater Education Show 2012

Here is a really small video showing Catherine Cheater from Golden Daffodils teaching how to teach children French vocabulary using actions.

” renewed focus on language skills at school is needed” John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce

Sometimes when engaged purely in Education it is easier to forget the wider world and the wider implications of why were are teaching a particular subject.  I was always aware being a secondary teacher that my students would possibly be working in Design, Programming,Engineering or Architectural type areas, not least because as well as teaching GCSE, A Level there was always NVQ teaching of skills that was part of my teaching role.  However for some they never think beyond the next exam and in primary often thought only about primary tests and not about the whole child and their future prospects.

With that in mind I thought that this information may be of use for those looking outside the box for reasons that languages should be taught and bilingualism and multilingualism should be embraced.

This is current from the Norfolk Chamber of Trade and shares the benefits to businesses about the importance of communicating with exporters in their language. Here is the link to the article:


I am pleased that the Primary Languages Classroom Awards supports language developement to enable or children to be able to function on the world’s stage. Below is the article in full.

A survey of over 8,000 businesses released by the British Chambers of Commerce, shows that exporting activity continues to increase. However, the findings also suggest that providing firms with more training in foreign languages, and increasing their exposure to international companies would encourage more business owners to export. Economic growth relies upon British businesses being able to export more, so the British Chambers of Commerce is calling for more support for firms to help them trade internationally.

Language skills are vital to exporting

Knowledge of other languages is an important skill for exporters. 61% of non-exporters that are likely to consider trading internationally consider a lack of language skills as a barrier to doing so.

However, of those business owners that claim some language knowledge, very few can speak well enough to conduct deals in international markets. French is the most commonly spoken language, with 73% of business owners claiming some knowledge. However, only four percent are able to converse fluently enough in French to conduct business deals. This number drops significantly for those languages spoken in the fastest growing markets. In 2012, the IMF projects that the Chinese economy will grow by 9.5%, but just four percent of business owners claim any knowledge of the language, with less than one percent confident they could converse fluently.

Re-establishing foreign languages as core subjects within the UK national curriculum and in workplace training would mean that the next generation of business owners are ‘born global’ with language skills. The BCC is calling for the National Curriculum to be revised so that studying a foreign language is compulsory until AS level. Businesses could also be helped in training staff in new languages, if the government offered additional financial incentives such as tax credits for small and medium-sized businesses that make a significant investment in language training.

Businesses with stronger international connections are more likely to export

Businesses that do export are more likely to have stronger social connections with overseas markets. When asked what led them to export, the top three reasons cited by current exporters were:  collaboration with overseas partners (71%); a chance enquiry from outside the UK (57%); and previous work experience abroad (52%). Those business owners that have lived abroad are more likely to export. 11% of current exporters have lived aboard for five years or more.

The BCC believes that creating opportunities for employees to work in overseas companies could help expose firms to more international opportunities. For example, an international business exchange programme, perhaps modeled on the well-known academic Erasmus scheme would allow employees to complete placements in companies abroad, and bring back their experience to their employer. A scheme that covered BRIC economies, as well as Europe, would mean that businesses could take advantage of fast growing markets as well as the eurozone.

Commenting on the findings of the report, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Exporting is good for Britain, so it is right that we should encourage current and future business owners to develop the necessary skills to trade overseas. We’re encouraged to see the percentage of firms exporting in our survey has increased from 22% in January 2011 to 32% in January 2012. Exports are equivalent to nearly 30% of UK GDP[1], but more can be done to help businesses take the first step to exporting. Encouraging companies to boost foreign language skills with incentives like tax credits is just one way of making sure we continue to export best of British products and services around the world. A renewed focus on language skills at school, as well as helping companies forge new connections overseas, could help ensure that current and future business owners are pre-disposed to thinking internationally.

“We are already the sixth largest trading nation on earth, and the third largest service exporter, but to really secure our future as a leading exporter we need to help companies take advantage of new markets. Giving businesses the opportunity to forge links with international firms, develop employees’ language skills, and providing compulsory education in languages for young people will transform many of the great businesses we have in the UK into success stories overseas.”


School in Devon reports its language teaching to parents

For anyone not sure how to report to parents here is an example from a school in Devon. I hope thy enter the Primary language awards this autumn, they look like worthy competitors.




French continues to be taught weekly by Mrs Holding in Easdon, Shapley,

Mardon and Butterdon.

This term the children will be hosting a visit from a parent who is a native

German speaker. A native French speaker has already visited and took an

active part in some French sessions. The children enjoyed sharing an

afternoon with two visiting children from France this term.

The twinning link with Betton has provided a great opportunity for the children

to develop their cultural understanding and the purpose of learning French.

There has been the opportunity to correspond with the Betton children, giving

a real purpose to writing French. The more able Year 6 linguists have been

required to write more fully and act as a role model in terms of eg accent for

the other children.

The school’s assessment procedures have been developed and regular

assessment is now made on the three strands in the Framework for oracy,

literacy and intercultural understanding. This ensures that the children’s

learning is meeting their particular needs.

For the next academic year, the school plans to:

  • Develop its teaching of French phonics through a new resource called Take 10 Phonics
  • Continue to strengthen the link with Betton and use this as a meaningful learning resource.

June 2012



Paula wins again – UK

It was great to read that Paula from Priory Lower School has received more recognition for her wonderful work with German in her classroom and school. When I met her to give her the prize as winner of the Primary Language Awards German category she was teaching in the classroom, and the children were enjoying going to the shop to buy their goods in German.

She and the school were awarded this at the time because the judges said:

Priory school has developed an integrated approach to the teaching and learning of German. Using German in everyday class lessons and encouraging a wider knowledge of the language than normal methods. Activities include mental maths, this offers practical terminology that promotes real knowledge and understanding whilst helping the learners to be conversant at a higher level.


The involvement of the community through links with mother tongue speakers at other local schools helps the learners understand sentence structure and pronunciation plus a practical knowledge of intonation and word sounds. The children take part in external activities such as fairs with singing and games and they look forward to continuing with their language learning. It was interesting to read that the school has links with a German Partner school as it helps the learners participate in conversational German in both written and spoken form.


The judges felt that the school has embraced language learning through integration and the children have a mix of practical sessions and academic work combined with access to German speakers.  The school offers German to its learners who already have other languages to their repertoire, giving everyone a second common language for reference and conversation.

It is great to know that this has continued and developed further to ensure winning the Goethe-Institut’s Peter Boaks Award. Well Done.

To enter next years awards register your interest via the website www.languageawards.com or look out for it at the end half of next term.


To read more about Paula’s recent award http://www.teachingpersonnel.com/news/2012/7/9/teachers-recognised-for-german-contribution/



I’m Deaf – Why cann’t I be bilingual?

At this years Education Show I met an inspirational person called Deborah Reynolds  who was telling me all about sign langauge and the need in schools all over the UK as well as asking me whether the Primary Language Awards in 2013 would include sign language in the other category.  I can confirm that this will be happening this year.

http://www.schoolofsignlanguage.com/about to find out more about the UK Sign language school

I remembered this because of this story which looks at bilingualism and deafness. It is interesting that many think that if  a child is deaf then literacy and linguistic ability is positively ignored. This article argues the case for bilingualism and the added dimensions it gives to these learners.  What do you think?

The brain-boosting benefits of bilingualism have been in the news quite a lot of late, and for good reason. The collective results of neurological and psychological studies show that bilingual thinking has a profound effect on the brain’s executive function, and bilingualism produces positive results in areas ranging from greater cognitive flexibility and faster response times to staving off dementia. With the backing of such staunch scientific proof, it seems only reasonable that educators, medical professionals and parents would advocate for bilingual education for children, and often they do; integrating foreign language learning into early education is an oft-cited goal for curriculum developers. But for deaf children, bilingualism as an educational option is ignored and in many cases even actively discouraged. The result is a child at risk of not mastering any languages, and therefore failing to reach his or her linguistic and cognitive potential.

It’s been proven since the 1960s that American Sign Language (ASL) has all the characteristics of a full and natural language, with a syntax and vocabulary independent of English, so the benefits of ASL-English bilingualism are the same as bilingualism between any two spoken languages. (I’m referring here to ASL and English, but the same holds true for signed and spoken language bilingualism in countries around the world.) So why would parents or educators try to stunt a child’s growth?

It isn’t a case of ill-intent, but rather simple misinformation. The media characterizes cochlear implants as miracle cures for deafness, and in the face of such impressive-sounding technology those who advocate for sign language education seem out-of-date or bitter about the potential loss of Deaf culture. In reality, though cochlear implants have provided hundreds of thousands of deaf people with unprecedented access to sound, as yet they cannot restore normal hearing. Success rates as to whether the user will be able to hear or understand sound and speech vary greatly, so deaf children accessing language solely through imperfect technology get fewer chances to acquire language than their hearing peers, and fall behind because of it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not anti-technology, nor am I advocating for deaf separatism. Learning written and spoken English should be a top priority in deaf education; it’s essential for a successful integration into mainstream society. However, promoting speech shouldn’t mean sacrificing linguistic understanding, and it doesn’t have to. If given the chance, deaf children can acquire language through the natural process of incidental learning via signed language, because the visual modality allows for one-hundred percent access to linguistic information at all times. Having a strong linguistic foundation with which to think about language then allows a child to go on and learn a second language without frustration or the threat of developmental delay. But because of the stigma surrounding signing, children are often denied access to language in favor of promoting access to speech.

The arguments against ASL are many; the use of ASL prevents a child from learning to speak; learning ASL is hard; the distinct syntax and structure of ASL lowers deaf children’s reading levels. But the suggestion that ASL prevents a child from speaking is irrational, and illustrates a double standard in the education of deaf versus hearing children. Parents of a hearing child would never be instructed to stop speaking Spanish, French, Azerbaijani, etc, with their child in the worry that the child would not be able to learn English. In fact, teaching basic signs to hearing babies is trendy of late. It’s thought to decrease frustration, facilitate early communication and actually encourage speech. The idea that knowing two languages could hurt one’s reading ability is also tenuous. While some statistics show lower reading levels for deaf children, this data also includes children educated with oral methods, and research shows that children who have exposure both ASL and spoken English read better than those who know just one or the other. And the suggestion that verbal communication is easier for families should be met with question easier for whom?

With bilingualism, deaf children will not only catch up to their hearing peers, but also have access to the advantages of linguistic and cultural diversity experienced by bilingual thinkers everywhere. That is, if we let them.

Author Bio:

Sara Blazic is an instructor of undergraduate writing at Columbia University, freelance literary translator, and the founder of Redeafined (www.redeafined.com

with thanks to:


National Curriculum Review – UK

Have you seen the Letter from Micael Gove  re the Curriculum review? He is saying that emphasis will be on English, Maths and Science with Maths expectations of pupils to be higher and knowing number bonds to 20 by year 2 and times tables to 12 by year 4. Added to this will be  more challenging content.

After that to broaden the curriculum  the following subjects will be compulsory: Art and Design, Design and Technology, Geography, History, ICT, Music and PE across all primary years. At KS2 all pupils to learn a foreign language.

Brilliant news about languages and Design Technology two subjects that really set our children up for the world of work. What do you think of this news?

See more at http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/l/secretary%20of%20state%20letter%20to%20tim%20oates%20regarding%20the%20national%20curriculum%20review%2011%20june%202012.pdf

Welsh v English Which path do I choose for Secondary School ? – Wales

This is an interesting story about the path of twins and their choice at secondary school after engaging in a Welsh Primary Education, which path to choose?

Has anyone else out there been in this position?  I have been promoting Welsh via the Primary Language Awards and the Welsh category as having been born in South Wales I wanted to promote the language, this years winners can be seen at www.languageawards.com.

AN EDUCATION guidance document has prompted some controversy after revealing  concerns over the progression of Welsh language skills for Welsh medium pupils.

The document – called Promoting linguistic progression between Key Stages 2  and 3 – has been distributed by the Welsh Government to local education  authorities and the head teachers and governing bodies of Welsh medium primary  and secondary schools.

It reveals there has been concern within the Welsh Government at the failure  of some children undergoing Welsh medium education to progress their language  skills after making the transition from primary to secondary schools.

It states: “Despite a growing number of learners being taught through the  medium of Welsh in our primary schools, the lack of linguistic progression  across the educational stages from Key Stage 2 onwards has been of concern to  educators in Wales for a number of years and there has been considerable  discussion on how best to try to respond to the situation.”

The document goes on to offer advice about how to overcome the doubts of  parents who worry whether Welsh medium education will place their child at a  disadvantage. It advocates running “workshops for Years 5 and 6 learners {aged 9  to 11} to raise their awareness of the value of Welsh medium education”.

The document states: “This is best undertaken by means of fun activities that  underline the economic, cultural and social benefits of being bilingual in  contemporary Wales.

“During the project, a number of fun activities were created for use with  Years 5 and 6 learners to raise their awareness of the benefits of bilingual  skills, including the social, educational and economic benefits.

“One example is to have two dolls that are similar in appearance, and present  a story about the dolls to the learners. They are twins who have been brought up  as Welsh speakers. Both had a Welsh medium education at primary school. One went  on to receive a Welsh medium education at secondary school, but the other  followed her friends and chose an English medium education. One went to college  in Wales while the other went to college in England. One of them retained her  Welsh while the other lost the language after spending years working in  London.

“By coincidence, years later both applied for the same job – a senior job  with a good salary in an area of Wales with a high number of Welsh speakers. The  learners are told that one twin has bilingual skills, and is therefore able to  speak to everyone, in either English or Welsh. The other twin can only speak  English. There is a discussion on the importance of giving customers a choice of  language and on the rights of Welsh speakers. Learners are asked to choose which  candidate should be given the job. In all cases, without exception, the learners  chose the twin with bilingual skills. The result of the exercise is that the  learners themselves realise the benefits of having bilingual skills.”

A source in the education sector said the document had caused some  controversy since it was issued earlier this year because some educationalists  believed it clearly proposed “strategies to discourage English-medium education  between Key Stages 2 & 3”.

The source said: “I think the document speaks for itself. The strategies for  discouraging English medium secondary education – particularly those aimed at  children like the dolls example – are, I think, highly questionable.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We want to address the decrease in  numbers of pupils who continue to study Welsh first language and subjects  through the medium of Welsh on transfer from KS2 to KS3. That is the focus of  this document.

“It highlights the advantages of learners progressing from primary through to  secondary education in the language which they’ve been using throughout their  education. It also provides guidance for local authorities and schools on how to  support and encourage progression. Linguistic progression is a key part of our  Welsh medium education strategy.”

The document also recommends a DVD to be shown to parents called Symud  Ymlaen/ Moving On. The DVD states: “Employers now seek robust bilingual skills – having a Welsh medium education is an effective way of improving skills and  confidence in the language. More jobs require bilingual skills today than ever  before.

“Being bilingual gives young people the opportunity to experience two  different cultures and two worlds of experience. Two languages – twice the  choice!”

A National Assembly briefing paper about the current Assembly term, which we  have seen, suggests a Welsh medium education Bill may be necessary to compel  local authorities to implement the Welsh Government’s Welsh medium education  strategy, which has targets that 30% of Year 2 learners and 23% of Year 9  learners should be assessed in Welsh first language by 2020.

Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education-news/2012/05/31/document-sparks-fears-for-pupils-welsh-language-skills-91466-31080648/#ixzz1wWgzPVDm