Bradley CE Primary School

Author(s): European Schoolnet
Institution/Organisation: Bradley CE Primary School (UK)

1. Profile of school

1.1 Main characteristics

Bradley CE Primary School is a small mixed school in a rural area. It currently has 50 pupils enrolled and is funded by the state. The language of tuition in the school is English, while the home language of the pupils is mainly English, with some Spanish.

1.2 Language teaching in the schools

Language teaching in the school is still in the early stages of implementation. It was introduced in 2004 as part of the UK government's Primary Foreign Languages programme. There are no language assistants in the school but extensive use is made of communications technology, the internet, and interactive whiteboards. There is a strong policy of international collaboration in the school through eTwinning projects with Spain and Poland. The school has been awarded the International Schools Award by the UK Department of education and science.  Spanish lesson are given to the entire school through a project based learning approach.

2.  Profile of the language initiative

2.1. General description of the eTwinning action

The eTwinning action is one of the activities that make up the Comenius programme, the school education section of the Lifelong Learning Programme. It currently has 60,000 registered users. Schools and teachers often opt for eTwinning, as it is an easy and non-bureaucratic means of starting a European project. It is unique among the Comenius actions, insofar as it has a dedicated communication space for teachers equipped with a wide range of online communication tools designed for use in the project implementation. Unlike the Comenius school partnership programme, there is no funding for schools involved in eTwinning, and many teachers use eTwinning to begin their Comenius projects while they are waiting for approval, or else to continue the project after the funded period is finished.
The importance of language learning is central to the work of all Comenius actions, and eTwinning is no exception. Within eTwinning, it is impossible to carry out a project without touching in some way on language. This language can be the mother tongue of the project schools, or, as is more often the case, a common third language used as the medium of communication.

2.2 Description of the language initiative

The teaching of Spanish in the school is reinforced by an on-going e-twinning project with a school in Spain, (Ablitas). Each year the project takes a new focus. 

In the school year 2007-8 the theme was  ‘Journalist’ or in Spanish ’Periodistas”  Each month the children rewrote news, both local and international, in their own words for pupils in their partner school, with headlines and captions in the target language and the main story in their own language. This was made into a newspaper and e-mailed. They then needed to use target language to understand the news they received from Spain. This project was among the winners of the UK National eTwinning awards in 2008 and has received eTwinning quality labels at both national and European level in recognition of its achievement.

In the current school year (2008-9) the theme is "Our Virtual City" and a third school, (Zory), joined the project from Poland. The three schools in the three different countries are e-mailing information about, and photos of significant buildings in their local area, written in English and Spanish, on PowerPoint. These will be used to build into an interactive map of a combined "city", where they will be able to compare different facilities and buildings in each of the three countries. 

Normally the teachers spend approximately 2-3 hours each month on this project, although some extra time may be involved in normal language lessons e.g. learning key vocabulary.

3. Evaluation

3.1 Success Factors

The major factor in the success of the project is due to the active support of the school management to international collaboration and to the enthusiasm of the teachers involved. The fact that the teaching of a foreign language is a perquisite of the UK primary school curriculum is also a factor. However, the means by which a school chooses to implement this varies considerably, and this school has adopted a particularly active and creative approach.

3.2 Success Indicators

The teachers have observed that the children have benefited in three different areas: