The English Curriculum at Queen Elizabeth’s School
Queen Elizabeth’s School (QES) is an infant and junior school with its own traditions, identity and values, aiming at providing its pupils with a solid base for acquiring the skills and aptitudes needed academically and socially in adult life. Special relevance is given to the process of learning English as a Second Language and the development of a bilingual and intercultural education in an increasingly globalised society. Established in 1935 by Margaret Denise Lester, a British subject, QES is currently owned by the Fundação Denise Lester charity trust. Miss Lester built this school to strengthen the ties between Portugal and England, as well as to provide Portuguese children with a good knowledge of the English language and culture. At present Queen Elizabeth’s School welcomes children from different nationalities and runs the school respecting the core ideals set by the founder in accordance with the ongoing international educational policies and challenges. Our school offers: Nursery, Reception, Pre-primary and Primary. The methodology used is an early partial immersion and topic-based one to assure that an exciting and stimulating learning environment is delivered. The children’s progress is assessed regularly whereby general objectives and specific tasks are set to ensure children become familiar with the school routines and reach their full potential in school activities. There is a strong emphasis on oral practice and production, which is developed through the learning tools of role-play, songs, storytelling and drama. At the end of the Pre-primary cycle children can understand and respond to basic instructions; engage in basic daily routines; sing familiar children’s songs and nursery rhymes in English; understand familiar fairy tales and stories; talk about themselves, their school and household; and identify aspects of the English culture. Pre-school pupils are prepared for the Trinity Stars: Young Performers in English, by Trinity College London, confirming the focus given to the development of communication skills through drama. The school has adopted the Cambridge Primary Curriculum, which complements and fits in with the National Portuguese Curriculum requirements in the subjects of Primary Maths, Primary Science and English as a Second Language and Queen Elizabeth´s pupils are assessed by Cambridge Primary Checkpoint Tests. These tests provide schools with an external international benchmark for learner performance, giving a valuable feedback on learners´ strengths and weaknesses. Each student receives a statement of achievement and a diagnostic feedback report. The children have nine hours and a half of English per week. In addition, English clubs are held an extra two hours a week for 3rd year students and three hours a week for 4th year students. The purpose of these clubs is to further expand our students’ knowledge of the English language through extended quality exposure to English. At the end of years 2, 3, 4 the children can also take the Cambridge English Young Learners Tests (Starters, Movers and Flyers respectively). Furthermore, we prepare students for the Trinity College London Language Exam in Integrated Skills in English. The school also provides extra-curricular English classes for former students in preparation for: the Trinity College London Language Exams, namely the Integrated Skills in English (ISE I), Graded Examination in Spoken English (GESE VII) and ISE II; and the Cambridge University Examinations: First Certificate of English (FCE), the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) and Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), corresponding to the levels of B1, B2, C1 and C2 of the CEFR – Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Our pupils are also given the opportunity to prepare for the prep tests, grade1, grade 2 and grade 3 examinations in piano and classical guitar by the internationally renowned ABRSM – Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.
Experience of a bilingual curriculum
Queen Elizabeth’s School introduced a model of integrated bilingual education (Portuguese-English) using the Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) methodology, where English is used as the target language to teach subject matter, as well as cross curriculum themes. CLIL is a pedagogical model that focuses on content, cognition, communication and culture. The learners need to be systematically supported in developing proficiency in the use of subject related language by transferring knowledge from one language to the other. The linguistic demands are made accessible by using realia, scaffolding and translanguaging strategies so that learners can access easily subject content vocabulary and concepts. Content subject classes taught through a second language provide rich opportunities for developing both cognition of subject matter and language skills. At our school learning English has always been part of a bilingual educational project since its early days. In the Nursery and Kindergarten classes Queen Elizabeth’s School has adopted a system of partial immersion where the English language is acquired similarly to that of the mother tongue. The language of communication is English using the Total Physical Response (TPR) methodology and further developed through Drama and Music. In the Primary classes the emphasis is placed on reinforcing aural competences and developing written communication. The students of Queen Elizabeth’s School learn Maths and Science through the medium of Portuguese and English within the framework of the Portuguese Primary National Curriculum and the International Primary Programme of the Cambridge University, given that we were approved as a certified Cambridge Primary and International School in 2013. Learning English is a tool of utmost importance in a globalised society, characterized by multilingualism and multiculturalism, therefore it is necessary to equip students with the academic and scientific qualifications for their future needs.
The corner stone of the educational philosophy of the school is based on the development of character, consciousness of humanity and active citizenship. We aim at educating active citizens of the world with a sense of social responsibility by raising their awareness to current social issues; promoting the defense of children’s rights and focusing on the importance of human values to enable a collective consciousness for a better future.
• Classroom pedagogy is based on clear and objective evidence that works towards student achievement.
• Creativity, critical thinking and commitment to learning is also encouraged so that the students are led gradually to recognize for themselves that a sustained application to their studies brings its own reward.
• The school aims at building close relationships among teachers, students and their families.
• The school has built up a standing staff of qualified English teachers over the years, many of whom are English native speakers.
• We offer in-service training and support in further developing our teachers by promoting networking and partnerships and fostering collaborative work in the area of Education at both a national and international level.
• Evidence of the school’s achievements are recorded and reported through our website.
Queen Elizabeth’s School 2017
Average Cambridge Primary Checkpoint Scores
Normally this programme is taught over a period of six years. However, at QES, we only started three years ago. It should also be noted that the Science programme is very different to that of the Portuguese Curriculum. This is the first time our students have sat these examinations and they found it to be a very positive experience.
Cambridge Primary Checkpoint End of Series Report
Demographic Breakdown of total entry for Cambridge Checkpoint May 2017
Young Learners English Tests – Cambridge University
Comparative Results 2015/2016
First Certificate in English – Comparative graph
QES / Some European Countries results
Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)
Certificates and Scores of Queen Elizabeth’s Students in July 2017
Trinity College of London
ISE Foundation, ISE I e ISE II results 2017
European Dimension of Education
Comenius Multilateral School Partnerships
The school has sought to develop a sense of belonging to a broader and outward- looking Europe. With this in mind the school applied for a European grant which required us to develop a project for the COMENIUS Sectoral Programme: School Multilateral Partnership. The Comenius Programme funds actions that are relevant to school education from pre-school to secondary levels of education, so that organizations from different European countries, involved in the school education sector, can work together in school partnerships. To develop the FLY Comenius project we formed a partnership with three foreign schools, namely: Shiremoor Primary School – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, Colégio Publico Atalia – Gijon, Spain and Kurtulus Primary School – Kuthaya, Turkie, with our school as coordinator. Current results demonstrate that Comenius school partnerships help foreign language learning, promote intercultural awareness and ICT task-based competences. Comenius aims to enhance the quality and European dimension of education, promote teacher training, improve pedagogical approaches and disseminate good practices and innovation in school education management. The FLY Comenius school project aimed to engage and motivate our children in their learning and learning-to-learn skills, raising their curiosity, imagination, sense of experimentation, critical and creative writing. The Fly project explored the benefits of using ICT and digital media in the classroom to promote European school cooperation and collaborative learning.
Aims of the FLY project:
• Adopt a holistic approach to the schools curricula reinforcing learning within and across subjects, multidisciplinary and transversal competences, a new crosscurricular didactics involving the Arts, Science, ICT and other subjects in a creative manner.
• Promote intercultural dialogue and new pedagogical methodologies (Early Language Learning, Content and Language Integrated Learning).
• Improve the potential of ICT to enhance teachers learning.
• Explore the interaction between education, community and professional development, alongside promoting an active European citizenship as well as social responsibility.
• Develop a common identity and a sense of belonging to the European Union. Visit FLY Multilateral Partnership website at www.flyproject.org
INTERNATIONALISATION – A STEP FORWARD
QES has been implementing the Cambridge Primary Bilingual Programme alongside the National Curriculum since 2013. The school will follow an integrated curriculum for subjects taught in English, namely: English as a Second Language, Science and Maths.
Overall Learning Objectives
The Cambridge Primary curriculum focuses on clear learning objectives which seeks to provide learners with the skills and knowledge that prepares them for their lifelong learning experience by:
· Deepening learning and engage our children with a focus on a European and International dimension – promoting global citizenship.
· Developing an International Network of students so as to enhance our children’s sense of global citizenship.
· Increasing their awareness of the value of transferable skills and knowledge to better prepare students for life.
· Exploring new technologies.
· Developing interpersonal skills by raising learners’ awareness of others’ attitudes and values.
· Developing their analytical and critical thinking through a global perspective.
· Ensuring that more students achieve their full potential to better prepare them for lifelong learning.
In order to achieve these objectives these four issues must be reinforced and met:
· Our students may only address the teacher in English; · Teachers should only speak in English to their students; · Our students must always try to speak English, even when their discourse is not yet wholly correct; · Students must try hard to speak English to classmates.