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Not allowing Language if Poor Engl/maths grades

(28 Posts)
Verbena37 Mon 20-Jul-15 20:00:28

Does anyone know if it's common practice for secondary (yr9) not to be allowed to take a language if their English and Maths grades are below where they should be?

Current HT saying new yr 9s (3 tier system) won't be allowed to learn one of two languages unless their maths and English grades are high enough.

Whilst in principle, I believe their maths and English GCSEs are important (obviously) but I feel that if they have a high altitude for languages, they should have the choice to take them as an option.

LIZS Mon 20-Jul-15 20:04:09

No not common afaik. However schools are targeted on Maths and English first and foremost hence the priority. Language is not compulsory.

titchy Mon 20-Jul-15 20:31:44

Our school does this if English is very poor - grade E or below. Their justification is that there's no point kids learning an MFL if they can't cope with their first language. (Native speakers of other languages do a GCSE in their own language though.) In reality only a dozen or so are barred from languages.

QueenOfNothing Mon 20-Jul-15 20:41:14

If they can't read and write in English how will they cope with reading and writing a foreign language?

Maths is slightly different but I think you'd find very few children who are very weak at English who'd want to continue with MFL.

It's certainly a subject you'd expect them to fail. Should they be allowed to do it even if they're likely to fail quite badly?

starfish4 Tue 21-Jul-15 13:44:21

My DD's school stated before children even started that if they were struggling with English, then they wouldn't have the option of a language due to the fact that if they hadn't got a reasonable grasp of English, then they'd struggle with a language. There is the option to take the time spent on a language and put it into having extra English lessons to help support those that really struggle.

Bonsoir Tue 21-Jul-15 13:51:20

This is a complicated issue: recent research tends to conclude that learning an MFL is beneficial to the mother-tongue of even very weak pupils. However, the benefit is dependent on the right sort of teaching of MFL (which usually doesn't occur in UK schools).

wormshuffled Tue 21-Jul-15 14:26:46

I thought this was really bizarre in my DS school. They took 2 languages in year 7 , then took a surprise mental maths test at the end of the year. The results of this test then indicated whether they were capable of keeping at the 2 languages or dropping one. When I queried it, I was told that a child's natural ability in maths determines how easy they are likely to find languages.

SallyMcgally Tue 21-Jul-15 14:30:30

Yes - if taught properly then learning another language definitely lifts your performance in your own mother tongue. There's a lot of work happening at the moment where rudimentary Latin is being taught in primary schools in disadvantaged areas, and there is compelling evidence that even a basic knowledge of Latin is raising literacy levels for children who have been struggling in English.

bruffin Tue 21-Jul-15 14:41:46

OP are you saying they are banning them from taking all MFL or just limiting to one?

I was told that a child's natural ability in maths determines how easy they are likely to find languages.
Locally to us somes schools take 10% on aptitude for language. Its a test based on logic ie here is a verb in an obscure language and now work out another verb with this root, so the maths think based on logic makes sense. However my ds who is does have a natural ability for maths was useless at gcse because it was based on learning long passages and having a spld this really didnt work for him and ended up with a D.
To be honest I wish he only had to do one language in year 7 like my dd who started two years later and then took only one in yr 7 and then 2 from yr 8. She didnt end up taking Italian for gcse because of timetabling issues.

Verbena37 Tue 21-Jul-15 23:50:57

The school is changing from a three to tier school and along with it, the HT, who has been there for two yrs now (and the school doesn't seem to be much improving), has decided to cut German and just have French and Spanish as MFL options. I learnt German there and was hoping they'd keep it but no, they're offering Latin instead.

That aside, yes, he means they cannot learn any MFl if maths and English grades aren't high enough. Not convinced about the good maths ability means you have a good aptitude for languages...... I was almost fluent in French and sound at German by A level yet my maths teacher said I'd fail if I took the higher paper. I took the intermediate paper and got a B but then forgot loads of maths.
I could see how they might link ability in the mother tongue language to MFL but not maths.

Bonsoir Wed 22-Jul-15 07:42:21

Access to MFL should not be rationed on the basis of a fairly spurious assessment of aptitude. I very strongly disagree with (a) writing DC off before giving them a chance (discrimination) and (b) not offering all DC, whatever their perceived strengths, the meta linguistic reinforcement of language learning.

QueenOfNothing Wed 22-Jul-15 10:04:43

But these children are in Y9! They've already had MFL teaching prior to that (or they should have!)

In the normal UK system, when you move up to secondary in Y7, most children have to do a MFL in Y7 and Y8. But by Y9 lots of them won't still be doing it.

Lots of schools start their GCSEs in Y9 and so only children taking MFL for GCSE will still be doing it.

If you said Y7 I would have more sympathy for you. But by Y9 children that are on track to fail Maths or English really need extra time on that. For their sake. And presumably this is how the school timetables the extra support.

They're not doing it to be mean!

If your particular child is not allowed to do MFL then I would talk to the school and find out if they can make an exception (if that's what your child wants).

If it doesn't effect your child I would butt out. You may well think very differently about the importance of MFL teaching if your child was very behind in Maths or English.

When people say 'learning a MFL helps children with dyslexia' they are not talking about learning the GCSE syllabus. If you can't read and write English you will not be able to read and write a MFL, and reading and writing is part of the GCSE syllabus.

Verbena37 Wed 22-Jul-15 14:15:17

Queen of nothing , yes, I see your point. However, I was asking as someone whose child is learning French and has been since year 1.
Bonsoir, yes, I agree with you.

Verbena37 Wed 22-Jul-15 14:16:29, yes, guessing they mean if year 9 are planing on taking it as an option for GCSE, they won't be able if their grades are low In Maths and English. That, I disagree with.

westoxmum Wed 22-Jul-15 17:47:45

I think the idea of filtering MFL access based on English is utterly bonkers. I know some boys with particular weaknesses in comprehension for example who are excelling in MFL. I also think the formal teaching of grammar that arises in learning an MFL can bolster use of English. I strongly advise the OP to kick up a stink. Dumb policy.

titchy Wed 22-Jul-15 18:06:02

Do you not think that the time freed up by not doing an MFL would be well spent improving said comprehension skills? Or perhaps there's something else on the curriculum they could drop instead? The fact of the matter is that kids need Maths and English, and reducing their timetable to ensure these get covered sufficiently seems sensible to me. It's not as if doing an MFL GCSE actually prepares anyone sufficiently to communicate in that language...

Bonsoir Thu 23-Jul-15 07:37:19

The best way to improve comprehension skills is by using language in multiple different ways. Not by doing "comprehension" exercises.

schokolade Thu 23-Jul-15 07:56:37

What maths and English levels are considered good enough for the MFL? I think that has a lot of bearing on whether this is reasonable or not. If the HT is saying that kids with (eg) under Es in Maths and/or English should not take MFL, they might have a point. Under Bs, not so much...

TheFallenMadonna Thu 23-Jul-15 07:59:36

Do they use the time for booster Maths and English? Our weaker students drop one option for this. Not necessarily a MFL though.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 23-Jul-15 12:05:05

Dropping one option or more to provide extra tuition makes sense though. A blanket policy on which option that should be doesn't.

Also, everything that bonsoir has said.

intheenddotcom Thu 23-Jul-15 12:08:15

We have a small group - 10 to 15 students who do not take MFL at all from Y7 and instead focus on English and Maths. These are students who struggle with basic literacy and wouldn't cope with languages.

BackforGood Fri 24-Jul-15 00:03:53

I was going to ask the same as schololade

My opinion is going to be different if you are talking about 'any dc outside the top set for English' from if you are talking about dc who are struggling to attain a Level 2 for their literacy skills.........

Verbena37 Fri 24-Jul-15 18:57:45

The school hasn't stipulated how low they need to be in maths and English.
The HT is overhauling the whole way the curriculum is getting rid of obligatory GCSE RE and adding obligatory philosophy and ethics. Also, they are making kids take early IT GCSE and possibly business in year 10 so they can then do an extra GCSE. I have mixed feeling about that because I believe they should be focussing on their chosen options for GCSE yr, not doing extra early and missing time studying for their yr 11 exams. However, I agree with ditching obligatory RE.

Verbena37 Fri 24-Jul-15 18:59:14

The other thing that annoys me is the fact they are getting rid of German (that's popular) yet adding in Latin..where's the sense in that??
I think the HT is trying to keep up with the local private school....he forgets it's a state school.

QueenOfNothing Sat 25-Jul-15 06:00:02

Philosophy and ethics IS RE. They've just changed the title.

What's wring with Latin? There's only so many subjects a school can offer. And Latin is a good choice.

I'm sure the reason they haven't stipulated how weak you have to be is because you have to be VERY weak and they don't want to embarrass those children.

By not stipulating it also gives them room for discretion.

But I still can't understand your angst. Is this your DCs school or their potential school? Are you cross because it's the school your DC is going to and you no longer like it?

There is no school you'll like 100%. All schools have to cater for a wide range of students and therefore won't perfectly suit your DC.

But you sound very worried over school decisions which sound perfectly sensible.

If your child can read and write English I'm sure they'll be allowed to take a MFL.

If your child couldn't read and write English I'm really sure you'd be pleased they weren't still being forced to learn a MFL. After it had been almost certainly forced upon them for the last 9 yeas.

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