Funding cut to the providers of French lessons to primary pupils

AS the government announced an expansion of French teaching in primary schools, it has emerged that funding has been cut to the organisation which helped develop its new teaching programme.

An assembly in French at St Mary’s Primary School where children have ’really enjoyed incorporating the language learnt in French class into their school day’
An assembly in French at St Mary’s Primary School where children have ’really enjoyed incorporating the language learnt in French class into their school day’

The French Experience – which provides pupils with three hours of timetabled French over a six-week period – was successfully trialled in 2017 with the support of the Alliance Française de Jersey, which provided teaching materials and some teaching hours.

But although The French Experience has been taught in 21 primary schools and is expected to run until July 2022 for all Year 5 pupils in the Island, it will not involve the Alliance after funding was removed for its work in primary schools.

A government press release about the programme made no mention of their involvement in the trial, nor the cut in its funding.

The organisation’s chairman John Harris confirmed that while they continue to provide French assistants to some of the Island’s secondary schools, their programme in primary schools had been suspended. He said: ‘The French Experience initiative is a current programme now being rolled out in the primary sector. Although the Alliance is not involved in the current scheme at this point it would be pleased to provide any assistance if required to support what it regards as a very welcome and necessary initiative to raise the profile of French in Jersey primary schools.’

In the government’s press release, Primary lead for French Rachael Surcouf said they were pleased that they could extend the bespoke programme delivered by specialist French teachers to all nine and ten-year old pupils in the Island, and that they were also preparing a further initiative to monitor the students when they enter Year 6 and secondary school as part of a wider languages strategy.

‘It has been delightful to see pupils’ curiosity and engagement for language at such an early age. The class teachers have been keen to learn alongside the pupils and foster a climate for celebrating languages in the classroom to develop interest in French and other modern foreign languages represented in our multilingual Island,’ she said.

St Mary’s Primary School teacher Laura Guillaume said: ‘The pupils really enjoyed incorporating the language learnt in French class into their school day. French singing and chanting could be heard from my classroom and the children celebrated and shared the language they had learnt with family members by performing a short play entirely in French.’

The JEP contacted the government press office for a comment on funding for the Alliance Française’s work in primary schools but had received no response at the time of publication.

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