Transition and MLPS (again)

This issue has been rattling around my head for so long, it feels like part of the furniture. And furniture, like wallpaper can become so familiar it becomes invisible after a while. However, last night at our final MLPS session for this course we raised this issue and discussed it again. Here are the dominant themes of the discussion:


There are some take-your-breath-away examples of outstanding, deep, rich, exciting, engaging and relevant learning going   on.

There is some anxiety about practice and a lack of confidence with some practitioners

There is inconsistency of practice.

Support for the   teachers practising in this area is insufficient – they may do a 12 session   course but beyond this there is little in the system to support them on a day to day basis

There still appears  to be an ad hoc approach to the responsibility for teaching languages in   primary school.

It seems that it’s  still OK not to “do it” in p 6&7 if the teacher concerned doesn’t want to  or it isn’t enough of a priority for the HT

CfE isn’t a problem in  general but some practitioners would like a prescribed curriculum which they  all follow

Connections with  literacy and language learning in more general terms seem to be rare.

It doesn’t appear to  be an embedded area of the curriculum.

 It still often seems to be an add on ”slot” in   a timetabled primary curriculum (which still is vulnerable to getting bumped   to make way for more important things)



There is inconsistency of primary practice  across clusters which makes planning in S1 difficult

Building on prior learning seems to  be understood in terms of “what has been covered”

Uniformity of content is seen as  desirable and a solution to building on prior learning

All learners should know the same  things and be at the same level when they arrive at secondary

Content and curriculum as terms seem   to be used in an interchangeable way. This approach would appear to be at  odds with aspects of CfE.

Language learning in terms of topic  areas still seems to have currency. (This approach would also appear   to be at odds with aspects of  CfE.)

Resources drive planning– “there is   an area of x website which we don’t touch – we leave that for you” and it appears  that secondary textbooks are used in one cluster under the direction of the  partner secondary school

There are inequities in the power –   relationships between two sectors in this regard. Sharing of practice has   reportedly occurred in one direction only – from secondary –primary

There is still talk (on both sides )  of going (“ up “ to secondary or )“down” to primary instead of working   together

An agreement on an accepted minimum amount   of language or content would help resolve things.


At present, my MLPS priorities are supporting the teachers in practice. I’m trying to ensure that all p6 & p7 learners across our authority enjoy their entitlement to learn a foreign language as part of their broad and general curriculum. This is not an entirely straightforward task. As well as supporting the teachers in this present cohort, I’m also planning to work with clusters to try to do this now that the training course will finish this weekend. This will be a time-consuming job, working in 18 schools across 2 authorities on one day a week, but the set of issues raised above are of an entirely different order and need strategic thinking and action. I have a few ideas – might Learning Rounds help here? Whatever happens – and we need to make sure that something does – it’s not going to be one person who will be able to resolve even some of these issues. We need discussions involving school leaders, class practitioners, national specialists if possible, and strategic leaders. We need to be aware of what research says about this problem. We need to find out how others are approaching the problem and find out what works, what doesn’t and why.  Above all we need to refocus on the learner in the middle of all this and make sure that they are the first concern, not the unfortunate casualty of a planning process which prioritises convenience over meaningful, cognitive progress.


About catrionao

I'm a lecturer at UWS and a PhD student at Stirling University, studying a school based practice of teacher professional learning.
This entry was posted in Languages, leadership, Perspectives on Learning, Teacher Education and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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