Proactive secondary schools like Lambeth Academy may offer an answer.
You register your child in a French-language or French-English bilingual instruction primary school. Somehow she is miraculously accepted. You enroll her.
She sails through from French Grand Section (British Reception in Key Stage 1) to French CM2 (British Year 6 in Key Stage 2). Leaving primary school she is that rare species—a 100% balanced French-English bilingual, proficient in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Perfect. But now what?
If your child's primary is among the AEFE-accredited (homologués or conventionés) French primaries in London, AND your child was admitted by the Lycée Français, she can apply for admission to the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington (LFCDG) or the Collège Français Billingue de Londres (CFBC) in Kentish Town for the French college years (Key Stage 3) and beyond.
So she is all set, isn't she?
She would be, if it weren't for two problems.
The first is the relentless number of Francophones crossing the Channel, and the resultant massive oversubscription at CFBL (collège only) and LFCDG (collège and lycée) secondary French institutions in London.
The Lycée International de Londres (LIL) in Wembley opening its doors in September of 2015 hopes to alleviate the pressure. Formerly Brent Town Hall, LIL is set over 5 acres and will offer 12,000 square metres of refurbished teaching space to 1,100 students, 360 of which will be reserved for the French Collège (Key Stage 3).
All except for the trickier issue of insufficient provision of foreign-language instruction in the UK. If your child was enrolled in the bilingual streams at Ecole de Wix in Clapham, Marie-D'Orliac in Fulham and CFBC in Kentish Town, she would have had the benefit of a two-way French-English total immersion program. In concrete terms, the 50-50 French-English language instruction is 13+ hours a week.
However, the national curriculum requirement for foreign-language education is a mere 2 hours a week in Britain, and 3, in France. Neither system is sufficient to further your child's bilingual development let alone maintain what she has already acquired.
What can you do? Where can your child's French-English bilingualism be supported?
If you live near any of the three current French schools with bilingual streams, it is also likely that you live in one of London's Francophone communities. Not all but some of the secondary schools in these communities are responsive to the sociolinguistic demands of the area.
I found this out in a recent visit to Lambeth Academy (LA). Headed by the principal, Jan Shadick, 10-year old LA was a Modern Languages specialism school at its inception. It comes as no surprise then that Lambeth offers French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, and have already made inroads into setting up exchanges with schools in China.
In September 2014, LA will be admitting 5 French-English bilingual graduates from Wix Primary, and hope to make a bespoke French-language program that enhances the school's core instruction that conforms to the national British curriculum. This will take place in the form of augmented tutorials including French-language and French mathematics, CNED, and preparation for taking GCSE exams early.
Lambeth's English Department has already achieved an "Outstanding" standing from Ofsted in their subject judgment in 2012, forming the foundation for Head Shadick to grow her vision of extending the bilingual program through to the sixth form, and ensuring all students benefit from the multicultural dimension such a program would add to the school.
Could it be that with Shadick's leadership supply can meet demand and drive bilingual education and foreign-language learning to the foreground?
Best to hear it straight from the head, Jan Shadick.
For prospective families interested in finding out more about Lambeth Academy visit on Open Mornings, Tuesday, 30th September and Thursday, 2nd October, 2014 from 9:15am to 10:30am, as well as for an Open Evening on Wednesday, 1st October from 4:30pm to 7:30pm with a Principal's talk at 6pm.
22 September 2014
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