The courses follow the UK National Curriculum guidelines for English. Children attending French schools will already have important reading and writing skills that also apply to English, making the transition easy for them. We are very aware that they are in full time education and have daily homework tasks, so it is very important that we make the lessons interesting and fun.
Entrance to the courses is not based on age, but on reading ability. 8 - 11 year olds, however, who are non-readers will not join the little ones in Class A. They will feel more comfortable working with children of similar age, and will already have phonic awareness which will enable them to read English quickly. The teacher will differentiate the lessons so that each child is working at an appropriate level towards the higher level skills.
We place emphasis on widening the vocabulary of the children. I noticed that my own children had quite limited English vocabulary when they were younger because they have never been immersed in the language by living in an English speaking country. They were restricted to speaking English with two adults and often didn't understand much of the 'play on words' that they would have picked up in an English playground. Therefore, talking together and exploring the different ways language is used today is an important part of both courses.
Independent and creative writing
Emphasis is also placed on independent and creative writing. Based on our experience, teaching children to develop their own ideas in writing doesn't appear to form part of the French curriculum. We think that this is a great shame. Children on both courses will be taught to write independently and to vary their writing to suit both purpose and reader.
Use of drama and role play
Another very important element common in UK schools, but missing from the French curriculum, is the use of drama and role play. Such activities are a proven and extremely successful method of consolidating language skills and encouraging listening, speaking and writing skills, eg: play scripts, dialogues etc. Again, we feel it's a shame that children within the French system are missing out on this, so we try to do plenty of it at Jack!
Most children thrive during these types of activities, whereas they find writing or other skills more taxing. With careful encouragement and guidance the more hesitant child can also be drawn out of their shell and produce something for everyone to be proud of.
Taking part in drama is the most natural way of learning. It is derived from children's innate capacity to play - to be other people, at other times and in other places. To be able to improvise and 'think on your feet' is an important life skill and often, concepts that are tricky to understand by reading or writing, are made easier if explored through drama first. Children of all abilities find it enormous fun.
The primary section courses creation has been shared by Pat Nelson (M.A, Adv.dip.Ed, NDD), a retired English, Drama and SEN teacher with 38 years' experience in the UK middle school state system. Nicola Southgate (B.Ed) and Claire Hansen (B.A Hons, Masters of Teaching).
The secondary section courses have been written by Heather Clark (B.A Hons, PGCE, Specialist Leader of Eduction, Leading Practitioner of English). Heather is based in Cambridge, UK. It is Heather's passion to develop lessons and schemes of learning that engage and challenge young people, allowing them to make the maximum possible progress. During her career she's worked in comprehensive, grammar and independent schools. Heather was awarded Specialist Leader of Education status last year, and we're delighted to have her on board at Jack in the Box.
This class is designed for 3.5 - 4 year olds who aren’t quite ready to start learning to read and write, but are at the stage where they would benefit from fun educational activities in English with other native speaking children.
The children don’t start learning their phonics or do any writing in this class, but they do lots of educational drama and games (a very important part of learning, and fundamental to what we do at Jack), have storytime, start learning to count, learn their alphabet , build their vocabulary, do arts and crafts activities and generally have lots of fun – all alongside other native English-speaking children.
Classes A & B
The children in these groups will enjoy a variety of activities learning to read, spell, discuss and, eventually, write independently.
Class A: For students who have graduated from our pre-school class. Structured and focused small-group instruction on phonics and common sight-words. This class will continue to cater to the student's needs by differentiating the curriculum specifically to maximise learning for each student.
Class B: This class provides extension for those children who have mastered the initial phonological structures and need further challenges- phase 4 and 5 phonics, more advanced reading comprehension and writing tasks; specific spelling, class novels and more oral language sharing.
READING AND SPELLING
Children will learn to read and spell using the Jolly Phonics method.
They will develop their reading during the shared-reading of large size texts with the teacher, who will ask the children to respond to the story, use their phonic knowledge to decode new words and recognise Magic 100 Words. Children will take home a level-appropriate story from the Oxford Reading Tree scheme to share with parents. They will learn to read and spell the Magic 100 Words in class and at home.
Children need to enjoy their reading to develop a life long 'reading bug'. We will always adapt a programme to suit the child's preferred learning style.
The teaching of writing skills in English schools differs enormously from the French system. At Key Stage 1 children are encouraged to write independently. Children learn from each other, so they will sometimes be invited to write as a pair and the teacher will often model the children's ideas on the whiteboard to teach them how to construct sentences and use punctuation. They will be encouraged to use the style of writing they are being taught at school.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
During reading and writing sessions children will be encouraged to share their thoughts with the class and they will learn to listen actively to others. In the drama sessions, they will experiment with language and draw on the stories they have read to take on different roles. They will begin to 'think on their feet' and, eventually, when working in a group will solves little problems as they arise. Children usually have great fun in drama.
Games and action songs are an ideal way to relax or stimulate children. Play is good for all children and games help them overcome shyness, become less inhibited and develop a sense of fair play.
In some cases of similar ability, children will be paired to encourage an exchange of ideas and it gives an opportunity for comprehension work to be discussed meaningfully, rather than formally written in 'complete sentences'! All the children will take home a book to share with parents or to read alone, and they will learn to read and spell High and Medium Frequency Key Words.
Through their reading and shared-reading times, the children will see how authors construct their writing to give particular effects. They will discuss character, setting and plot and study how well chosen adjectives and adverbs, the length and construction of a sentence and the use of similie and metaphor can bring a story to life. They will be encouraged to think about their reading to look for meaning beyond the literal; to note what is inferred or can be deduced.
In our world of 'data overload' children need reference skills to locate the information they need. Without such skills they would quite happily copy irrelevant chunks of information from a computer or book. At an appropriate stage, we will give them opportunities to find their way around reference material; to learn to skim and scan for key words, and to get the gist or overall impression of a text. They will distinguish fact from opinion and, eventually, will retrieve and collate information
from a range of sources.
All the children work together with the teacher to explore different styles of writing. For instance, in the first half of a term they learn the features of instruction, recount and poetry writing and produce shared or individual pieces. Later on in the course, they write in the narrative, produce reports, and write to persuade and argue.
Children are very active during the lesson and frequently work together in pairs, groups or the class. They play a game and then write the instructions to play the game, remembering the features and using appropriate vocabulary and sentence structure. They make up a play and act it for an audience, then give a recount of the story in the past tense. They skip with ropes while chanting playground poetry. So, games and drama are an important stimulus to the children's study of different genres. Writing from experience gives them a sense of ownership of the set task and they focus well. The teacher will often model the writing on the whiteboard using the children's suggestions and, when they write independently, give them a writing frame to remind them of the features they need to include.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Children discuss their work individually with the teacher who moves from child to child. They also talk to their reading partner during comprehension tasks. Opportunities for speaking and actively listening are integrated into the writing sessions described above. In this way children will understand the relationship between reading, writing, speaking and listening, with the teacher's own choice of language making it all possible.
KS3 & IGCSE English Literature and Language (on Zoom)
Ruth teaches these two groups at the same time, and the class is heavily differentiated.
KS3 (11-14 year olds): The focus will be on the acquisition of key skills, such as interpreting texts (both literary and historical), understanding and explaining different viewpoints, extended and creative writing; all of which should support learning in both the French and UK education systems.
Our initial work will be on the novel ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar to be followed by a more bespoke provision centered on the interests of the students within the teaching group. Work will be project-based to enable our students to pursue their interests in an engaging and creative manner.
IGCSE (14+): This two-year course prepares students for both IGCSE Literature and Language (Edexcel). We have been entering students since 2019. So far six students have sat both exams and we're delighted to report that every one of them acheived top grades. An impressive achievement given that the students only have 2hrs per week with us.
For both options we have chosen the coursework route. This way we can be confident that students will achieve the best possible marks in the coursework, before sitting the unknown of the exam.
In the first year we focus on the Literature coursework for 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'An Inspector Calls'. For the Language exam we complete the 'Imaginative Writing' coursework and, if time, will start the poetry language comparison coursework. By the end of the first year the coursework will be marked and ready to be submitted.
In Year 2 we will concentrate on Paper 1 of both exams. For Literature - 'Of Mice and Men', 'Anthology Poetry' and 'Unseen Poetry' and for Language - 'Non-Fiction Texts' and 'Transactional Writing'.
Philosophy (on Zoom)
We are delighted to be able to offer the Philosophy from September 2023. Taught by a Philosophy specialist with 20 years experience teaching at this level, this course would be of interest to any student sitting "l'epreuve de Philsophie" as part of their Bac in France.
The course will be taught over a year. There is an option to take the Northeastern University London School Certificate in Philosophy Short Course but students are not obliged to sit it if they don't wish to. Studying Philosophy at this level is a fantastic opportunity for any student as it facilitates the development and application of critical thinking, analytical and debating skills.
Please click here to hear Ruth describe our secondary section courses (to come).