An investigation into the impact and effectiveness of beginning and early career primary teachers, trained on a work-based learning route, in the delivery of primary languages at Key Stage 2

Grant type: Themed Funding: Work Based Learning
Round: Workbased Learning
Amount awarded £14,746.00
Completed: January 2012
Leader(s): Prof Vivienne Griffiths
Organisation: Canterbury Christ Church University
Contact Email:
Contact phone: 01227 782313
Sally Dudley
Department of Education, University of Sussex
Start Date: 1 December 2010
End Date: 31 December 2011
Interim report received: 31 August 2011
Final report received: 23 January 2012

The ‘Primary languages and work-based learning’ project aimed to investigate the experiences of beginning and early career primary teachers, trained on the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP), in teaching languages in schools. 160 trainees from five GTP providers across England completed a questionnaire on primary languages training and language teaching experience; 50 early career teachers completed a similar questionnaire (total N=210). We also interviewed 12 questionnaire respondents and conducted four in-depth case studies in schools. 

Generally, the GTP-trained teachers’ knowledge of foreign languages was basic and their teaching confidence correspondingly low. Almost all trainees evaluated the GTP training favourably, although the maximum input on languages was one day, which most considered insufficient. Many school environments are supportive of primary languages teaching, enabling GTP-trained teachers to develop further. However, schools where language teaching was not prioritised inhibited this development. Recommendations to improve the programme include more opportunities to observe language teaching, better communication between training providers and schools, and more direct training in both contexts.

The Bristol online service aided the analysis of survey data. Factors critical to the success of this project were the participation of GTP providers for access to their trainees and early career teachers; and the positive involvement of teachers and schools. We experienced some initial difficulties in recruiting GTP providers to the research and in contacting GTP trainees and teachers for interviewing (particularly during term time), which led to delays at the start of and during the project.

We have already reported on the findings of this project in national and international conferences and further dissemination events will take place in 2012. Project findings will be built into revisions of our own GTP, and recommendations from the GTP trainees, teachers and their schools will be used to spark a wider dialogue on how to improve the role of primary languages within this work-based route into teaching, which we consider particularly important in the light of pending policy changes.