Ridgway Language Strategy

Purpose: A whole-school language strategy is designed to provide a cohesive and overarching framework within which our language initiatives are linked. Developing a whole-school language strategy is one method of realising Ridgway’s strategic aim of fostering an inclusive culture (Aim #2), which recognises and celebrates the importance of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Context: Ridgway School currently has a culturally rich and linguistically diverse student body – 15% of students are Māori, 11% are Asian, and there are many other languages in addition to English spoken at home, including te reo Māori, German, Spanish, Danish, Mandarin, Cantonese and French [to be updated using language survey data]. The school has junior and senior kapahaka groups that practice weekly and perform at school, and now inter-school, events, students sing waiata, and powhiri have been incorporated into school life. There is some learning of te reo Māori in classrooms. The Whānau Group actively supports the school in developing te reo Māori and tikanga Māori at Ridgway. The school currently offers a weekly Mandarin class to all children. Recently, the school has been approached by the French-speaking community to introduce a bilingual unit. This has prompted the school to articulate a larger set of learning outcomes for the diverse range of language interests that are shaping our school culture.

Vision: Students will understand and respect the diversity of how their identities are shaped by their language and culture, which reflects their experiences, cultures, histories, traditions and values. Being part of a school community which is actively taking steps to extend the learning of te reo Māori and the incorporation of tikanga Māori will encourage students to value the fundamental role played by tangata whenua in our national identity. Making the diversity of languages and cultures visible within the school will support Ridgway School Charter’s Strategic Aim #2 of promoting an inclusive culture. Improving the school’s incorporation of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori into learning will help the school to honour its Treaty of Waitangi obligations and the status of te reo Māori as one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s official languages.

Improving and extending language learning at Ridgway will also expose students to the cognitive and linguistic benefits of learning another language, which include creativity, problem-solving skills and an awareness of language that can later be applied to other language learning.

Initiatives and Intended Learning Outcomes: The school will offer a range of opportunities to increase students’ exposure to languages and cultures. The school will offer several different levels of language exposure to students to tailor language and cultural experiences to the different needs of the Ridgway community. This will include the following three initiatives for the initial strategy period of 2018–2021 after which the strategy will be updated to reflect the changing needs of the school community.

Initiative 1: Whole-School Te Reo Māori and Tikanga Māori Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcome: Students have opportunities within their everyday classroom environment to learn te reo Māori and tikanga Māori as provided for in the Primary Curriculum. Opportunities will be actively sought to link learning of te reo with other aspects of the Curriculum (such as Inquiry topics) and other school activities (such as Matariki celebrations and noho marae). In this way, appreciation of te reo and tikanga is woven into the everyday learning environment for all students, which will have the added benefit of fostering students’ open-mindedness, intellectual curiosity and alternative ways of thinking.

Implementation Plan: The Board and school, supported by the Whānau Group, commit to developing by the end of the 2018 school year a three-year plan for achieving this learning outcome. This plan will set out the steps needed to achieve the initiative, including teacher professional development, investigation into what support or advice is available from the Ministry of Education, and the identification and acquirement of appropriate resources. This three-year plan will be reviewed periodically and the achievement of specified targets assessed.

Initiative 2: Stand-alone language learning

Intended Learning Outcome: Provide opportunities for language learning on a regular and ongoing basis, but not integrated into the curriculum. Designed to introduce and expose students to other languages, cultures and values that they may not otherwise be able to experience.

Initial Targeted Language: Mandarin

Implementation Plan: Continue to offer a weekly Mandarin class to all children. Offer other languages [depending on outcome of survey]. Support the sharing of Ridgway’s diverse cultures amongst the school community by, for example, integrating celebrations into the school event calendar.

Initiative 3: Bilingual Learning Opportunities

Learning Outcome: Students have access to a bilingual environment where they can learn a foreign language and culture. Integrated into entire school curriculum, available in both English and the foreign language. This supports students understanding how language and culture affects their ways of learning and their cultural knowledge. The teacher employed for this unit will also enable French language and cultural learning opportunities for the whole school.

Initial Targeted Languages and Cultures: French

Implementation Plan: Establish a bilingual French-English unit at Ridgway School by the beginning of 2019. Initially employing one bilingual teacher to teach in the unit (part or full-time depending on student numbers) and to provide French language tuition to other students outside of the bilingual unit.
[see French Unit Q&A and project plan and http://www.ridgway.school.nz/Site/french/consultation_1.aspx ]

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