How to Ace Your Subject Leader Role in French
What is the role of a French subject leader?
Ofsted’s 2019 inspection framework focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of the three I’s of a school’s curriculum – Intent, implementation and impact. As a primary French subject leader, your role is to have a clear understanding of these three aspects of your languages curriculum and be able to articulate these clearly and confidently.
Ensuring that a clear and well-informed intent for your French curriculum is in place is essential, as this will provide the building blocks to every aspect of language teaching and learning. Your intent should consider your school context, reflecting your wider curriculum drivers as key foundations of your approach to French. If, for example, one of your curriculum drivers is ‘compassion’, you should consider how your language provision promotes this, supplementing any schemes where necessary. If using a scheme, it is also important to be able to articulate your reasons for selecting this within your intent. Kapow Primary’s ‘French: Intent, implement and impact statement’ can be supplemented with your own school’s language rationale.
The current Ofsted inspection framework also places great emphasis on ensuring that your curriculum is well sequenced and progressive. As a primary French subject leader, possessing a good knowledge of the national curriculum for primary languages is essential. This can be a challenge because the curriculum statements within the programme of study for languages cover all of key stage 2, making it difficult to know where pupils should be at each stage of their learning journey. To overcome this, it is necessary to break each area of learning down further into small steps that progress through Years 3 to 6. This breakdown requires specialist subject knowledge and can be time-consuming. Many schemes, however, have their own progression documents, such as Kapow Primary’s ‘French: Progression of skills and knowledge’.
Alongside a clear intent and progressive curriculum, it is imperative that a subject leader understands the strengths and areas for development within their school’s French provision. Creating an action plan is a useful way to prioritise strategies for improvement and work out how these will be achieved. This should be informed not only by the documents already mentioned in this article but also by evidence gathered from lesson observations and other forms of monitoring undertaken as part of your role. Adding timescales to your action plan ensures that you can clearly articulate where the areas for development are within your school, alongside how and when you plan to address these.
To be an effective subject leader, a large proportion of your role will concern evaluating the quality of your school’s French provision and working to build upon this.
Raising the profile of languages within your school is a vital part of the implementation of an engaging and enriching curriculum. It is useful to conduct an audit into the current status of French amongst pupils, staff and parents before considering ways to provide further enrichment opportunities. You may wish to consider building some of the following ideas into your approach:
- Organise whole-school language days where parents are invited to share in their children’s learning.
- Create vibrant and purposeful displays in prominent places within your school to showcase language learning.
- Invite native French speakers into school to converse with the children and provide a greater purpose to the acquisition of language.
- Invest in resources such as French books and educational apps to expose children to language on a wider scale.
In addition to enriching your curriculum to provide a high-quality experience for your children, the implementation of your curriculum should also focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning. While French schemes can be an excellent way to support non-specialists, continuous professional development is essential to ensure that teachers are equipped with the necessary skills and confidence to deliver the teaching effectively. This support may be in the form of staff training sessions, individual coaching or joint teaching. Negotiation with the senior leadership team on allocating time for this is vital to ensure the successful implementation of your curriculum intent. If using the Kapow Primary scheme for French, our staff meeting presentation may be useful when holding a meeting for your staff on languages.
As an effective primary French subject leader, gathering evidence on the impact of your curriculum delivery is key to evaluating the next steps for improvement.
Knowledge and evaluation of your school’s assessment system for French will ensure that you can identify key trends in data that will, in turn, highlight areas for development within your school. You may already have a system in place for assessment, but it is important to evaluate its effectiveness. Does your current approach allow you to analyse data quickly and efficiently? Are teachers able to assess children’s progress effectively and without being burdened by unnecessary workload? If the answer to either of these questions is no, consideration should be given to making changes that can improve your school’s assessment methods for French.
Other methods of assessing the impact of your curriculum provision could be through the use of pupil voice interviews, staff questionnaires or liaising with feeder schools to identify areas that children find challenging when moving into key stage 3. All of these methods of data collection will offer useful insights into areas that can be built upon for sustained improvement.
The role of a French subject leader can be both challenging and extremely rewarding. With a clear focus on the three I’s, and careful and strategic planning, you can ace your role and raise the profile of languages within your school. You can find more supporting resources in the form of a ‘French subject leader toolkit’ and a ‘French deep dive toolkit’ from Kapow Primary.