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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:09 am 
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Well DD attended her Induction Day at DCHS on Tuesday and came home waxing lyrical about the great day she had and new friends she had already made! Also absolutely loved her form teacher, so we thought we were off to a great start.

The only element she hadn't particularly enjoyed was a German lesson, which reminded me that we hadn't yet been asked our preference of 2nd MFL. All do French and then we were advised at the tours and in information leaflets you can choose between Spanish and German.

As we have many relations living in Spain including grandparents and cousins and with myself and older dd speaking Spanish (although mine admittedly rusty these days), we obviously want Spanish. Dd is very keen to follow this route also so that she can join in the conversations, and can practise her skills when we holiday there each year.

Unfortunately when I asked the question at the Parents session I was advised that all choice has been taken away from the children and parents this year. Due to the extra form intake, they have bizarrely made the decision to allocate 3 form groups German and 3 Spanish on a totally random basis.

To compound matters, although which form has been allocated which language has already been decided, they refused to give me this information and said dd would be advised when she starts in September and we have a 50/50 chance!

We spoke to both the head of Year 7 and current Head, neither of which would listen to our view point or offered any solution. Year 7 head just kept repeating that their language department was very strong and so dd would enjoy whichever language she was allocated! Not really the answer! Head's view was that if he let all who wanted to do Spanish, he would have teachers without a job!

Now I am not only left with a dd worrying for the next 6 weeks if she will be lucky to get Spanish or not, (me thinks not, as only a few forms did German!) but I am equally worried about the way the school handled this and effectively stone walled us. It really doesn't bode well for the future.

Throughout the evening they remarked about their open door policy and how they are all there to help both children and parents settle in smoothly and feel part of the school.

The total lack of transparency and unwillingness to offer any solution is extremely worrying to me and am now at a loss as what to do. Whilst I really want to peruse it, at the same time I don't want to get off on a bad foot with the school before dd has even started!

Interestingly older dd is at CSG where they start a 2nd language in Year 8. Although forms were allocated a language, children did have the option to switch forms to get the language of their choice, and the school went out of their way to make sure everyone was happy. As their Deputy is to be new DCHS Head, don't know whether to make him aware, although guess there is very little he can do until September. (Sadly he was there during the day to meet the children, but left just before the parents session).

In the playground yesterday, language options unfortunately seemed to be a common theme of discussion, as a similar thing seems to have happened at our local Upper. The difference there is they are willing to listen to parents and are allowing children to switch where possible. And of course they have also been advised which language they are due to take, which obviously helps!

Apologies for the long post but just feel so frustrated and any advise on what to do next would be most welcome!

(Incidentally, due to the extra form intake this year there were obviously quite a number of parents there, for the first time for DCHS, from way out of catchment, including those who had won places in 2nd round allocations. Could not believe the number of questions asking did the school not provide transport, how was their dd going to travel all that way on public transport with big instruments, and how would they get home if attending after school activities!!!! Do these parents not research and plan this before entering their children and choosing a school- makes my blood boil and feel so sad for all the local children that lose out to this system year on year, but that's a whole other topic!)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:29 am 
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Oh that's annoying. At what point in the future would she be able to take up Spanish?

I agree with you on everything you say and I too would be at a loss as to what to do.

The business of language options etc has been glossed over at all the school open days etc I have been to, and I have always been acutely aware that anything could happen in reality as quite often the people who answer your questions about the curriculum are not the ones who will be most up to date about the decisions for the year group in question. If you've set your heart on something in particular it's very frustrating.

Maybe you can make the best out of a bad job by keeping Spanish as the "home" thing and all improve together through CD courses in the car etc. My DD has done French at primary school the last few years. Before they did it compulsorily at school her French was better than it is now. I can't tell a word of what she says, the accent is so dreadful, and she comes out with words that I am at a loss to know what they were intended to be. My feeling is she'd have been better off not doing it at school as there is a lot of unlearning to do now and starting as a blank canvas with a good teacher would have been better.

Maybe the Spanish teaching at your school is good and you'll find that the Spanish teachers will tutor on the side so that your DD, at the point that she can take it up as an option, will not be behind the ones who are doing it in school time? And in the meantime, you can dream up some uses for that German .............


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:54 am 
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Thanks Mystery.

Unfortunately there is no option to take Spanish as an option higher up the school, if she is allocated German now. Only Latin is added in Year 8 (compulsory not optional). That is why we are so frustrated and wanting to do something now.

So the crazy thing is she will be doing 3 languages by next September, none of which she has had the option to choose, and so many doors are potentially being closed.

If necessary we will of course find a tutor and like the idea of CDs in the car too, but seems mad when she will already have so many languages to contend with at school.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:04 am 
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mariposa - if this is not changed I would go to the Governors.

As far as I am aware every other Bucks GS offers a choice or they all do the same two. The reasons they give are not very good ...


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:04 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
mariposa, I have sent you a PM.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:31 am 
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Well you are lucky to get to do that many languages. My DC didn't end up in gs and I was recently informed that he'll only be doing French OR Spanish. I called up the school assuming I had misunderstood things, but I hadn't. Even got to speak to Head of Languages and she couldn't understand why I would want my son to take more than 1 MFL!!!! I asked if it would be possible for him to follow lessons OR sit end of year tests OR at least get info regarding homework so that I could teach him at home. She said no. She said she could not guarantee he would even be allowed to sit the extra gcse if I taught him privately. If he were to sit the gcse, she told me that I would have to pay for it. I said that's ok, she replied " well, no guarantees. might be stopped last term by the school." I was shocked. I studied abroad and despite majoring in maths, physics, chemistry had to study English, German, French compulsary to the age of 19 plus Spanish until I was 15.

My son was honestly in tears when he found out. Last year, he was so saddened not joining his brothers at GS and had asked me to teach him Latin since he would miss out on that subject and asked me to give him a head start in Spanish. He just wants the same opportunities as his brothers. I told his new school this; why can't all children get tha same chances? Not everyone has to study all languages, but just give those a chance who want to. I had picked this school since they would give him the chance to study Physics, Chem, Biology separately.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:09 pm 
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It seems that DCHS are now following what DCGS do and assign the language to the form group as a whole rather than allow options. This is to - as you were advised - retain German/MFL teachers - who have in recent years seen their subject plummet in popularity, and now are notoriously hard to recruit One of my friends studied German & Italian at uni, became Head of MFL and teacher of German at an independent school and now has to teach French, which she never studied in the first place!
I personally would write to the new Head and point out your concerns as he may be willing to bring in the tradition of balance that is a hallmark of CGS, and if not he will more than likely address the issue - albeit out of your time-frame. However, would your DD prefer to stick with what seems at first sight to be a nice form group and undertake Spanish study outside of school? I do know a family who have had four children between both Challoners schools and they have done just that - opting to tutor their children to a desired language up to GCSE and those children have them gone on to achieve very well at that language and continue it then as an A level. Perhaps more of a 'long game' strategy?
I hope you get what you'd like.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:13 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:59 pm
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Quote:
As we have many relations living in Spain including grandparents and cousins and with myself and older dd speaking Spanish (although mine admittedly rusty these days), we obviously want Spanish.


mariposa, I don't know if this is of any help, but I know for a fact that this would be considered a valid argument at DCGS – while trudie is correct to say they are allocated a language as a form group, there are at least 2 boys I know of who successfully asked that their DS be allowed to take Spanish for similar reasons to yours. I don't think it's bizarre to allocate randomly in the first instance, but I do think it's bizarre not to listen to specific and valid arguments in a particular case.

The HT's argument is very odd – if all the girls want to study Spanish, you hire more Spanish teachers and fewer German teachers! This is perhaps why not many DCHS parents I know are all that sorry that he is leaving…

I would take Guest55's advice and pursue this one if I were you.

(ccl, a lot of the Upper Schools just don't have sufficient MFL teachers to cater for DCs to take more than one, and the demand, generally speaking, is not there to warrant hiring more. Incidentally, DCGS does not teach Latin, although they will facilitate it as a twilight option)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:14 pm 
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Other GS do assign the language by form group but there is a choice!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:18 pm 
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It's similar at BGS (or was), I think you can however state a preference, but it's not guaranteed. When DS1 started, I think everyone did Spanish, with the 2nd language being French or German, split by classes. By the time it was DS2's turn, everyone did French plus German or Spanish. I guess it is difficult for them if everyone would end up choosing the same, but they could offer you the chance to express a preference, even if it wasn't guaranteed.
Personally, I would push it in your situation, but probably wouldn't have done in mine, where we had no strong preference.


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