Over 100 languages spoken in Newham schools

Languages were the hot topic at a school in Canning Town when a number of teachers and experts got together for a meeting.

Newham students’ extraordinary language abilities were recognised at the “Language Learning” symposium held at Rokeby School, in Barking Road.

Organised by the Newham Partnership of Complementary Education (NPCE) in partnership with the school, the meeting was chaired by Baroness Morris of Yardley, Estelle Morris, former Secretary of Education.

Speakers highlighted the achievement of five schools in Newham awarded specialist language status at secondary level with some innovative primary school teaching as well.

Also attended by Cllrs Furness and Sparkbrook, teachers from surroudning schools, local supplementary schools, parents and interested members of the community.

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Special guests included members of the Plaistow-based organisation Shpresa who are part of a national campaign to promote more languages in the national curriculum and exams.

The first in a series of public seminars to take place in Newham schools over the coming months, speakers from Rokeby included Deputy Headteacher Wendy Bower who spoke about how students who master more than one language increase their opportunities in life.

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Assistant Headteacher Sarah Lawson spoke about the importance of promoting community languages at Rokeby where 70 different languages are spoken while Sarah Henderson and parent Kinsi Omar presented their work towards settting up a Somali Saturday school at Rokeby.

National guest speakers included Mark Dawe, director of Oxford and Cambridge exam board OCR, Dan Elliot, head of the Europa Langauge Centre in Essex, and Karen Kershaw, a specialist Maths and Languages Adviser to Local Authorities, based in Newham where, it was revealed, over 100 languages are spoken and encouraged.

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