Bilingual French Unit to be established in 2019
After consulting with our community and careful consideration of how it fits within our vision for learning at Ridgway School, the board have decided to open a French bilingual unit.
There is a strong demand for this unit from families with a French-speaking background from across the Wellington region. There is also potential for children from non-French speaking families to attend.
Ridgway School will employ a New Zealand registered teacher who is bilingual in French and English. Those students who are part of the bilingual unit will learn the New Zealand Curriculum in French (60%) and join the rest of the school for classes in English (40%). The unit will 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.
Ridgway School will continue to promote Te Reo and Māori culture as part of the curriculum for all students in their daily learning, and this applies to children in the French class also. This means that children from the French class will also attend kapa haka and be provided with all the same opportunities that those in other parts of the school have for learning about Māori culture and language.
Funding for the French bilingual class will generated by students in the class. The Ministry of Education will fund the teacher and teaching resources will be provided by FRENZ (a charity which promotes bilingual French education). Children enrolled in our French bilingual class will pay a yearly fee to FRENZ, who will ensure that all necessary equipment and learning resources are supplied to this class.
We see this as an opportunity to welcome another culture into our school and further develop our linguistic diversity and rich cultural make-up. It is possible that other language based classes may be considered at Ridgway in the future, should there be a community of support for such classes.
There are two bilingual French units at schools in Auckland and one 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.