Dramatic turn

24th October 2003 at 01:00
European Awards for Languages: Carolyn O'Grady introduces the three special schools to receive awards this year, and Alison Thomas reports on the mixed-age project of the overall winner

Bridgewater High School in Warrington tapped into their existing expertise to engender a thirst for languages among younger children. And the project made the school overall winner in the European Award for Languages this year. It all began when part-time teacher Janet Lloyd volunteered to introduce French and German in her children's primary school. Before long this developed into a project using drama and she turned to her Bridgewater sixth-form for support.

"These were people I had known since they were in lower school. They were familiar with my way of teaching and I knew I could rely on them," she explains. From a few simple workshops featuring brown paper puppets she has gradually built up a huge repertoire of activities combining modern languages with music, art, drama and dance.

One of these is a living numbers machine. "The children choose a theme and develop their own ideas in groups of four or five led by a sixth-former.

Each child represents one or more numbers and they create shapes and make the appropriate sounds as they move around. It is very kinesthetic," she says.

Since Bridgewater High became a Performing Arts College the project has grown beyond recognition and her cross-curricular workshops are now enjoyed by key stage 2 pupils throughout the borough and further afield. Her team of helpers has also expanded to include secondary colleagues and a wider range of sixth-formers.

"They enjoy going back to their old school and it gives them a taste of what teaching involves," she says. Indeed, one former student has been so inspired, she now leads mfl drama workshops during university holidays.

Plans are afoot to broaden the project to include Spanish and ICT. AT

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