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MFL valued?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by gsglover, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    Last year our headteacher(who has just retired but was easily the best head I have worked under and is someone who has dragged our school to respectability in terms of results and morale) more or less said that no subjects except for Maths and English really mattered. i realise that he was talking in terms of GCSE results alone but it has got me wondering if MFL is really valued in other schools. We only do French as of next week despite 100% A*-C in both French and Spanish recently(Spanish had been much worse but French got 60-70% A*-C when everyone did MFL up to 2 years ago) in a school with 40-50 % 5 A*-c passes.
     
    vacherin likes this.
  2. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    Last year our headteacher(who has just retired but was easily the best head I have worked under and is someone who has dragged our school to respectability in terms of results and morale) more or less said that no subjects except for Maths and English really mattered. i realise that he was talking in terms of GCSE results alone but it has got me wondering if MFL is really valued in other schools. We only do French as of next week despite 100% A*-C in both French and Spanish recently(Spanish had been much worse but French got 60-70% A*-C when everyone did MFL up to 2 years ago) in a school with 40-50 % 5 A*-c passes.
     
    vacherin likes this.
  3. No question. My wife is an MFL teacher, and last year they had the GCSE grade boundary shifting debacle that is all over the press at the moment. That says it all really, MFL can do nothing about having children who get reduced grades because the exam board feel like it. (Not to mention SLT judging their teaching from unfairly manipulated results.) If exactly the same happens in English, it's a national scandal!
     
  4. No I don't think so - it certainly doesn't feel like it anyway. As of this year, we only teach French to the new classes coming in, despite getting better results in German. There has been talk of bringing in Spanish but it has never come to anything...
     
  5. yasf

    yasf New commenter

    This was my rant on the opinion page - thought I'd stick it on the end here: [​IMG]

    It's all down to the over emphasis that the ENC puts on Maths and English, due to the misunderstanding and huge oversimplification that only those 2 subjects deliver the 3Rs.
    We now have something similar with science in some schools where science departments are demanding that the 3 sciences are given triple the time on the timetable that other subjects are in KS4. This often means that the 3 "core" subjects are then given nearly 70% of a week's timetable - and usually the best hours.
    Personally I think it creates a very unbalanced, and quite boring curriculum, for the students. Please don't think that I don't appreciate the importance of Maths, Engish and Science - but I don't think that they are collectively more than twice as important as History, Geography, RE, MFL, PE, Technology (IT and DT) and the Expressive Arts. Not to mention the social sciences etc.
    A return to a more sane and balanced curriculum is long overdue.
     
  6. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Oatibix, exactly! There are talks of national enquiry, legal appeals, it shows no sign of dying down on the national news (let alone the local ones), and I want to scream: welcome to our world!
    If you want a bit of depressing read, have a look at this thread about this year's GCSE results, which quickly became a "let's beat MFL over the head with a stick" just because someone mentioned that it had happened to us last year. I don't mean just the troll who likes winding up pretty much everyone, but even fairly sensible English teachers joined the bandwagon and declared there's no point in studying an MFL for GCSE.
    Perhaps when we don't and their pupils stop having any concept of what an adjective or a noun is, then they'll reconsider...
     
  7. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    There is a separate issue here to my mind as harsh assessment of MFL has never been the case in our school when we had MFL for all, even though we did not have to. We accept that we will always get about 50 opting for MFL out of about 22 students in a yaer and so far they all have got C+ grades. My real point is not so much that MFL may be harder and harder to get a good result in, but that we could, as we do, get 100% C+ but still not get any praise, credit or sense of worthiness, especiially if our successful students don't get C+ in one of English and Maths. Sadly, this is often the case in our school. For example, one girl has 6xA*(including French), 4xA and D in Maths- many similar if not so extreme examples and several where boys did not get a C in English.
    I now actually do believe that modern languages count for little in our school. With a new headteacher, we shall see what the future holds.
     
    vacherin likes this.
  8. yasf

    yasf New commenter

    You shouldn't be so hard on your new head. He's just bringing things in line with the education system as a whole.
    Which was my earlier point.
     
  9. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    Accept that but it doesn't make for high morale!
     
    vacherin likes this.
  10. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    Just discovered that in our school next week(ugh!) some students will have 50% of their timetable in key stage 4 devoted to English and MAths alone. This to my eyes is madness!
     
    vacherin likes this.
  11. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Hurrah for a balanced education! Mission accomplished, it seems.
    Madness indeed.
     
  12. We have a Head of MFL and a Head of Science. We also have a Head of Biology, a Head of Chemistry and a Head of Physics. These five members of staff attend all the important Heads of Department meetings but the two members of staff who carry the title Head of French and Head of Spanish do not. Clearly it is of more importance to be a Head of Physics than a Head of French. This becomes particularly interesting when class sizes at A Level start to look more viable in French than in Physics and when MFL results are the best in the school...
     
  13. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    I am wondering what the motivation for such an unbalanced approach is. My opinion is that having more lessons of Maths and English doesn't ensure better results. In fact it might have the opposite effect!
     
    vacherin likes this.
  14. yasf

    yasf New commenter

    It comes from the same mind as the simplistic view that we should learn a language purely if it is of use in a future career, and then choosing which one on the basis of how many native speakers of it there are in the world.
    People just don't think. Knee jerk, ill thought through populist reactions seem to be the way forward.
     
  15. jubilee

    jubilee Lead commenter

    I'd say that the girl should not have been studying so many subjects when her Maths was so weak. She should have had extra Maths tuition in place of one or even two other subjetcs.
    The issue seems to have become getting as many Grades C+ as possible and not about educating young people to have decent literacy, numeracy and general knowledge.
    9 subjects at O level were standard for the brightest and best in Grammar schools in the 1960s. 8 subjects were fairly common too. I did 8 O levels, having had to drop Music at the last moment because you had to pass the Oral element (vocalising a tune played on the piano by the examiner). It was worth 10% of the overall marks and it was deemed too risky to let me have a go at it and end up with a fail. Pupils rarely failed O levels at my school as they were simply not entered if they were not considered solid pass material. I used to score maximum marks on the other 90% of the examination, which was composing harmonies, answering questions on musical notation and writing essays on famous composers.
     
  16. jubilee

    jubilee Lead commenter

    I looked at the 2012 results of a very challenging Academy that I worked in last year. The GCSE cohort were all part of the original failing school.
    I couldn't believe the data. They had over 90% A*-C and over 60% when English and Maths were included.
    So many pupils had 14, 15, 16 or 17 subjects with lesser numbers in brackets for A*-C. I was open-mouthed in shock at one particular name that had 15(8) next to his name.
     
  17. yasf

    yasf New commenter

    Why not? Which of her A*/A grade GCSE subjects do you feel wasn't worthy of her attention? Careful as in many schools she would have been encouraged to drop her MFL.
    She can easily retake her Maths next year, and with a D gradethis year and some effort - it's extremely likely she'll pass.
     
  18. jubilee

    jubilee Lead commenter

    I suppose it depends on whether you regard competence in English and Maths as important. A D grade in Maths GCSE is rather basic. Maths is one of those subjects where the earlier you master a component,the better. It's much harder to make the grade as you get older. It makes sense to me for the pupils to have had lots of catch-up sessions in Maths in KS3 and 4 and to study some of the other subjects later on.
     
  19. gsglover

    gsglover Occasional commenter

    The fact of the matter is that this girl already had 1 to 1 tuition in school(taken out of MFL and other subjects for it I might add) and has still only managed a D grade. My real point is that in the eyes of the school(and government) she is worthless as she does not help the school's 5 A*-C incl E and M!!
     
    vacherin likes this.
  20. yasf

    yasf New commenter

    Yes, I do. But I don't believe that a C in GCSE Maths or English show competence in literacy or numeracy - nor do I believe that it is a disaster if you get your GCSE a little later on - like 6 months later in the November sitting. Especially if it allows the student to take a full range of subjects.
     
    Madam butterfly likes this.

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