Assistant Head, Dulwich College
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Dulwich College Assistant Head Jenny Stanley outlines some of the partnership work the college has been undertaking, which has demonstrable benefits for all involved.
Dulwich College and City Heights E-ACT Academy have been educational partners since 2013. The campuses are just 2 kilometres apart, enabling regular engagement between staff and pupils that aim to nurture the aspirations of all students. The City Heights community includes a significant number of native Portuguese speakers, providing a richness in language and cultural diversity. For many years, City Heights students and their language teachers hosted a Portuguese stall at an annual fair celebrating international cultures and diversity hosted by our boarding community of 150 students from many different ethnic backgrounds. This led to discussions about the potential for further collaboration to capitalise on the City Heights pupils’ language expertise and to express a shared commitment to MFL across the two schools.
The Foreign Language Leaders Award
The Foreign Language Leaders Award (more information here) was introduced in 2021/22 as a way to draw upon the specialisms of City Heights and to create a mutually enriching setting where both groups of pupils could learn from each other in a partnership of equals.
It is a certificated course that teaches young people, aged 13 and over, to lead others through basic languages activities by working to develop their communication, organisation and motivational skills. Although the course was delivered by a Dulwich College teacher, the majority of the lessons were pupil-led and collaborative.
The course is divided into 6 units, which cover everything from planning, leadership skills, language knowledge, intercultural understanding, and taking part in foreign language events.
“I like this because I’m not being taught be a teacher, but by a student my age, so it gives me a good level of understanding”
Dulwich College pupil
Five Portuguese speaking pupils from City Heights joined five pupils from Dulwich College for weekly practical sessions that coached them in the various aspects of preparing and delivering a language lesson. Over 30 hours of tuition, pupils developed leadership skills, a deeper knowledge of language, and most importantly a shared intercultural understanding. The biggest benefit was to pupils’ self-confidence, and in particular the confidence to present to a group of people. There was a notable change in the pupils over the course of the programme. In the early stages there were nerves, anxiety, and some panic at the thought of presenting to their peers! After a few sessions, pupils were visibly more relaxed and confident and completely empowered. The pupils from both schools became friends and supported each other. Every pupil completed the course and received their certificate at the presentation event.
“The first lesson I was always turning my back on the class, and I wouldn’t dominate my voice, but now I know how to present myself and show that I am here to teach and help them.”
City Heights pupil
There are many opportunities to expand the programme. In the first instance we are looking to recruit other local schools to bring their pupils along. In addition, we are securing opportunities with local primary schools for our Language Leaders to deliver some MFL sessions. To ensure the longevity of the project, we are also encouraging teachers from partner schools to co-teach the course so they might then look to set up their own hubs with local partners.
For more information about this partnership, please contact Jenny Stanley, Assistant Head at Dulwich College at [email protected].