Languages, and home languages in particular, continues to spark our interest and is taking pride of place on the BBA agenda. We would be foolish not to: so many positive messages and inspiring ideas stem from sharing and practicing the languages we are exposed to, whether this be at home or in the school environment.
In the past, our commitment to language awareness and development has meant exploring a number of fun, engaging and educational activities: participating in and competing regionally and nationally in competitions such as Spelling Bee for learners of Spanish; sharing tasters of our mother tongues during Language Week, poetry challenges and inviting students to take on GCSEs in home languages. Putting our language skills to the test within a GCSE assessment framework is not always an easy task for our students, especially when they are mainly exposed to English. Nonetheless we have many students who do try and are very often successful. This is where the family context and familiarity with a language other than English plays a big part.
It is on the family context that BBA likes to stop and reflect, particularly when thinking of how we can extend our support as a School of Sanctuary. ‘School of Sanctuary’ remains a whole school project that BBA continues to commit itself to, aiming to embed every day its message of welcome, belonging and safety. This means reaching into our local community too, and ensuring that our message of sanctuary is consistent and relevant to the needs of the parents/carers and families as a whole.
This half term, there have been a number of exciting initiatives and discussions around languages which has seen the participation of staff, parents and of course our students. Here is a taste of some of them:
- Parent meetings, aimed at those that speak another language at home, specifically Arabic, French, Italian, Polish, Punjabi, Spanish and Urdu. Staff members that are also fluent in these languages have held informal chats with parents and carers on The BBA Way, School of Sanctuary and any other school related topic parents wished to raise. We hope to repeat these meetings in the future and attract more participation and open discussion
- Regional Spelling Bee Competition, held at the University of Nottingham and aimed at year 7 students across the East Midlands willing to compete in their spelling knowledge in Spanish. We are proud to announce that one of our students has made it through to the next round where he will compete nationally
- Future Language Clubs: this is a new idea that we hope to grow in the coming months and discussions have already sparked through the School of Sanctuary Committee; a group which enjoys regular meetings every Wednesday lunch time. The Committee members feel that language clubs would be a great opportunity to pick up a new language or share something of our culture
- Young Interpreters’ Scheme: We hope to launch this scheme by the end of this academic year. Students from different cultures have already shown an interest in this project which prepares young people to embrace new arrivals in the school with whom they may share a common language. Once again, this opens the opportunity to use our home languages and learn the skill of becoming a good buddy. Any student who volunteers to do this will receive training, gain a certificate for their work and be placed on the BBA Buddy list ready to be matched up with new arrivals throughout the year, as well as meet others already in school with a similar background