Proposed Bilingual French Unit
As a school, we have the opportunity to set up a French-Bilingual unit. There are a group of parents in Wellington with a French-speaking background who are keen to send their children to Ridgway to be a part of this initiative. There is also potential for children from non-French speaking families to attend.
The school would employ a New Zealand registered teacher who is bilingual in French and English. Those students who are part of the bilingual unit would learn the New Zealand Curriculum in French (60%) and join the rest of the school for classes in English (40%). The unit would be a composite class (like the other classes at Ridgway) made up of students of various year groups.
Some of the benefits to our wider school community include roll growth (which would help support our upcoming renovation projects as these are funded on roll size), the opportunity to learn French outside the bilingual unit and greater knowledge and understanding of another culture. Te Reo and tikanga Maori would still take priority and learning about other languages and cultures would not be side-lined.
Ridgway will continue to promote Te Reo and Māori culture as part of the curriculum for all students in their daily learning. Also, the bilingual unit would not take away any resources from Ridgway School. The funding for the resources and the bilingual teacher which is not covered by MoE funds is provided by FRENZ (a charity which promotes bilingual French education).
There are two bilingual French units at schools in Auckland and another one has just been set up in Christchurch. These schools have found them a wonderful addition to their school. The principal at Birkdale North has called the introduction of the unit 5 year ago “a fantastic journey”, pointing out that it has promoted tolerance and brought the other side of the world to their school. It has also paved the way for a te reo bilingual unit at the school. You can read about their journey here French bilingual unit at North Shore school.
We see this as an opportunity to welcome another culture into our school and further develop our linguistic diversity and rich cultural make-up.