Liverpool school gets British Academy of Language Award

In 2011, the British Academy launched a four-year programme to deepen awareness and demonstrate the importance of languages in the humanities and social sciences.

A recent report stressed that there was strong evidence that the UK is suffering from a growing deficit in foreign language skills at a time when global demand for language skills is expanding.

Languages in many British institutions are difficult or impossible to study within the UK education system at a higher level.
It is very uncommon for university students to take degrees combining languages with vocational or STEM (Science, Technology, English and Maths) subjects. This so limits the UK’s ability to transfer domestic innovation into international markets.
The aim of these Awards is to encourage more young people to take languages to higher levels.

It is with these aims in mind that I devised a programme of extending the Polish/English language taught at one of Liverpool’s Supplementary schools to incorporate aspects of financial acumen. In other words, asking the children “If I give you £5, how can you make £10?” Keeping within the dimensions of the language lessons, the children grew in financial wisdom by visiting the local Tesco superstore and learning from a Polish manager in their native language about how the store operates.
A Polish financial Advisor helped them understand savings and pensions and what a mortgage is. A Polish guide from the Liverpool National Museums, guided them through the acquisition of objects of art. A Polish confectioner gave a master-class in cookery and the economics of running a restaurant business.

Although a majority were English born, I had created a language classroom in the real world.
This educational ‘idea’ works and has become a beacon of good practice in the facilitation of language teaching. Weeks later the children used the knowledge gained from the ‘experiences’ to create, advertise and sell their own product at a profit. The project brought in maths skills, ICT design skills, communication skills, confidence in selling and approach, and above all, a joy of using a foreign language.
It is, with this approach, that the Liverpool Polish School was awarded the British Academy Language Award. As Polish school educational consultant, I was proud to accept the Award and discuss future interests with the Polish Ambassador Witold Sobkow.
Andre Olchowski
MEd, BEd, QTS, DASE, NPQH (National Professional Qualification of Headteachers)


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