18 May 2009

My day with the Lords

A few weeks ago, my headteacher informed me that we'd been invited to the Houses of Parliament to talk before the All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages. We were asked to talk about what we do at our school, and how we think language teaching and learning will evolve in the future. We were talking really about the state sector, and coming from the comprehensive school viewpoint. Across the committee room were students and staff from the Whitgift School in Croydon, an independent school for boys.

We travelled down on the train, and it was a totally event free journey, and with the Head treating us to a very nice meal in Covent Garden, it was a challenge avoiding a food-on-tie scenario!

Despite the fact that the Speaker of the House of Commons was delivering his statement, and making all the headlines, there was still a pretty good turnout, and it was great to see a couple of familiar faces in the room!

I delievered a short 15 minute presentation, using Prezi, to briefly highlight some of the key aspects of our school, and whilst I talked about how we use ICT to enhance our MFL provision, I wasn't entirely sure that my audience were following the technology I was talking about. I was honoured to be talking to people who have done so much in their lives and who had CVs longer than most of my 6th form's coursework submissions, but by the same token, I was more hopeful than expectant when it came to pitching my talk at the right level.

Having done my 15 minutes, it was over to the chaps from Whitgift, who spoke very well about some of the fantastic opportunities they are offered at their school. I was very jealous listening to tales of Japanese exchanges, and learning Arabic and Chinese as a matter of course in their school. I know that we can't compete on that sort of level with independent schools, but nevertheless I felt we gave a pretty good account of ourselves, and what we do for our students.

I was particularly pleased with the two students we took with us, who also spoke very well about their language learning experiences, and especially about the value of exchanges.

We were made to feel very welcome by Baroness Coussins, and to all the members who attended the meeting, and I know the students really enjoyed the experience of a day in Parliament.Justify Full

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