‘Language of the Term’ – one school’s experience

Valuing Multilingualism at Gardners Lane Primary School (GLPS), Cheltenham

At Gardners Lane there are 275 children on roll. 88 pupils (or 32%) are learning through EAL (English as an Additional Language). 24 languages, including English, are spoken by the children and families of the GLPS community; Bengali, Polish, Romanian and Portuguese are the minority languages mostly spoken. 

This is the second year that ‘Language of the Term’ has been established at GLPS to more explicitly value and celebrate its cultural and linguistic diversity. To support this termly celebration the school uses the excellent free resources on the ‘Language of the Month’ website created by Newbury Park Primary School.  [Editor’s note: Due to the recent Adobe changes, this link may be temporarily unavailable; please keep revisiting to check for the new version. In the meantime, a ‘Language of the Month Activities’ booklet can be found here]

The Languages of each Term are decided in an SLT planning meeting at the end of the previous academic year to link in with either curriculum learning, celebration days or cultures within the school community. This academic year the school has decided on the following languages:

  • Term 1 – Romanian
  • Term 2 – Bengali
  • Term 3 – Braille (link to World Braille Day in January)
  • Term 4 – Bulgarian
  • Term 5 – Arabic
  • Term 6 – Japanese (hopefully linking to the summer Olympics and Paralympics).

Last year, to support the celebration of British Sign Language as one of our Languages of the Term, a link was established with a BSL practitioner at a local secondary school who came into GLPS in January to deliver some enthusiastically-received classroom-based workshops with children.

Also last year, parents were invited into classes to share stories in the language of the term. These bilingual story-telling sessions were the highlight of the term for many children as well as the parents involved. Sadly the Covid-19 regulations currently in place make it unlikely that these sessions will take place for the foreseeable future.   

Many thanks to Teaching Assistants Jackie Bullock and Helen O’Brien for their skill and enthusiasm in putting together our eye-catching display to celebrate Bengali as Term 2’s Language of the Term. Thanks also to Class Teacher Felicia Cole for the loan of the beautiful ‘kameez’ on the left of the photo.

Author: Stephen Bray – EAL Lead, Gardners Lane and Oakwood Federation of Schools (& Better Bilingual Senior Associate)

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