First bilingual state school in England approved

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Jul 4 14:15:51 UTC 2005

>>From BBC News,

Bilingual primary school to open

The first bilingual state school in England has been approved - with
lessons in French and English.  The project in the Wix School in
Battersea, south London, is to be supported by the French embassy. Pupils
joining the bilingual class will follow the national curriculum but will
study all subjects in both languages throughout the primary school.

The initiative is the result of co-operation with the Lycee Charles de
Gaulle, a French school in London. Both the Wix school and the Lycee
Charles de Gaulle will admit 14 pupils each to the bilingual class from
September 2006. This will be repeated every year, creating a "bilingual
stream" at the Wix school, alongside classes taught solely in English.

The Lycee Charles de Gaulle's primary class and the Wix school occupy
different floors of the same building and have built up co-operation over
a period of time.

'Immense asset'

Wandsworth Council says it is responding to parents' desire for their
children to learn languages at a younger age, and wants to offer children
the chance to become bilingual early in life. Once the children leave the
Wix school, they would move into the secondary school system as normal.
Wandsworth hopes to open more bilingual schools in the future, both
primary and secondary.

Wandsworth cabinet member for education Malcolm Grimston said: "A second
language is best learned when you are young. And if the language becomes
the medium for teaching the curriculum, the skills are obtained even more
naturally. "To be bilingual is an immense asset both culturally and in
employment." The bilingual class is expected to be oversubscribed, but the
authority stressed that the usual admissions arrangements for state
primary schools would remain.

Admissions rules

"We are not trying to cream off the more linguistically able," spokesman
Steve Mayner said. "All applicants will have to meet the usual criteria,
and the final deciding factor would be the distance of their home from the
school, and whether they had siblings here." "We expect applications from
children from a variety of backgrounds.  Children whose parents are French
would not be given priority either," Mr Mayner said.

The bilingual curriculum is currently being developed by the head teachers
of both schools. The proposal was approved by the education overview and
scrutiny committee, which will also report on the school's curriculum and
admissions arrangements in September. In response to longstanding concerns
about the lack of foreign language skills in England, the government has
promised that all primary school pupils, aged 7 to 11, will receive
language lessons by the end of the decade.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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