BBC reports on new state funded bilingual schools

A state-funded bilingual primary school will open in Brighton this September with lessons to be held in Spanish and English. It follows the opening of a bilingual primary school in London which offers lessons in French and English. This is from the BBC…

The Bilingual Primary School, which will teach the national curriculum in both Spanish and English, is not the first bilingual school in England but they are far from common.

While Welsh medium schools, where lessons are taught in English and Welsh, have been common in Wales for many years, bilingual schools are still something of a rarity in England.

The first state-funded school to offer lessons in two languages (rather than language lessons) started in London.

Wix Primary School, in Wandsworth, has a bilingual stream of pupils which will reach year six this September for the first time.

The idea was conceived by two head teachers, one from Wix and the other from Ecole Charles de Gaulle Wix, a French lycee which shares the site.

Marc Wolstencroft, the head teacher of the English school, said: “I started work at Wix in 2004 and at the time the school wasn’t doing well.

“We shared accommodation with a branch of the lycee, a French primary school, and I thought we had a wonderful opportunity between the two schools to create something which would raise the standards of the school and do something novel and exciting in the world of education which parents would buy into.”

Wix has gone from a school where pupil numbers were declining to one that is oversubscribed.

Mr Wolstencroft said the school is in an area that would be classed as having social deprivation with pupils a mix of those that receive free school meals and those from more affluent families.

He said: “We have various people come and visit us annually, we had some visitors from China recently – there has been an awful lot of interest in replicating our model in German, French, Russian and Chinese.”

The school aims to offer a “bi-cultural” experience so children learn about life in France and see how French children are taught different subjects.

 “Children need a broad education and with language learning it’s the earlier the better,” he said.
“Children who speak two languages are at an intellectual and cultural advantage. We live in an international society so being able to give children the opportunity to speak another language is quite crucial.”
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