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Modern Languages Student Mentoring Project

30 November 2016

Woman in classroom with two young girls

Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams has visited a south Wales’ comprehensive school to see the successful Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) programme in action.

The MFL Mentoring pilot project is an initiative funded by the Welsh Government under its five year Global Futures plan, which aims to increase the take-up and improve attainment of language learning in Wales.

Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School in Barry is one of 48 schools across Wales to take part in the pilot, in which undergraduate modern linguists from Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea universities are trained to provide mentoring support for year 9 pupils over a six-week period.

12 pupils from Bryn Hafren have been nominated to be mentored by a second year languages undergraduate at Cardiff University.

Amy Walters-Bresner, Head of Languages at Bryn Hafren said: “The clear focus and drive for Bryn Hafren taking part in the mentoring pilot is to improve pupil uptake of MFL in Key Stage 4 by raising pupil aspirations and self-belief that they can achieve, and that learning a language is a lifelong skill.."

“The mentoring pilot has proved a key project in improving pupils' perception of language learning as they can see the relevance of languages outside of their classroom and in the 'real world'. As such the pupils readily participate in their mentoring sessions and enjoy building positive relationships with their mentors."

Amy Walters-Bresner, Head of Languages at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School

“Indeed, feedback through pupil voice has been incredible this year, so much so that we now have a waiting list of pupils wishing to take part. Data from participation last year in the pilot supports the impact the project is having as MFL continues to be the most popular option at Key Stage 4 for a second year.”

Now, in its second year, the MFL Mentoring pilot is succeeding in raising the profile of MFL and increasing the number of pupils taking a foreign language at GCSE, whilst broadening pupils’ horizons and raising expectations.

In phase one of the pilot, 27 schools were involved, with over half reporting increased numbers for GCSE classes, including one school where a modern language GCSE class is now due to run for the first time in three years. In phase two demand has increased substantially and 48 schools are now involved in the pilot, with a further 18 schools requesting project engagement.

Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, said: “It is great to see our universities, regional consortia and schools joining together to support and drive forward this initiative to increase pupil engagement with languages..."

Kirsty Williams AM

"Learners from all backgrounds and abilities can benefit from the skills that come with learning a language and we should be doing all we can to encourage and enable them to do so."

Kirsty Williams AM, Cabinet Secretary for Education

“I want our learners to be equipped to take advantage of the many opportunities offered by a globalised economy.”

Professor Claire Gorrara, Academic Lead for the project, added: “The pilot has developed successful partnerships across Wales building a modern language community that brings together universities, educational consortia and schools. This partnership model is bearing real fruit in terms of support for young modern linguists in Wales..."

Claire Gorrara

“In the wake of the vote in the UK to leave the European Union, the importance of promoting modern languages is particularly urgent. Now more than ever, young people need to develop linguistic and intercultural skills that will help them develop professionally and personally, and compete on a global stage.”

Professor Claire Gorrara, Professor of French Studies

The MFL Mentoring pilot has created a successful partnership model bringing together schools, the four education consortia and four Welsh universities.