Education for the future
Start date: Jun 1, 2015,
End date: May 31, 2017
Van Lodenstein College is a secondary school with a reformed Christian ethos, based across 5 different sites in the middle of the Netherlands. The approximately 4000 pupils and 450 staff come from reformed Christian families. Due to their beliefs there is less access to media in most families when compared to their peers. As so much English is used in Dutch media this has resulted in less exposure to English amongst the reformed Christian community. As a result Van Lodenstein College has had consistently low marks for English when compared to national averages. Following extensive research into this issue, the most significant response has been to increase exposure by implementing bilingual teaching. This has been successfully done in the VWO stream, and the marks for English in the VWO stream now meet the national averages. There is now a plan to introduce bilingual education into the VMBO stream.
Implementing bilingual education creates a great need for sufficient numbers of staff who have the required level of English to fluently teach using it. Van Lodenstein College has therefore organized a professional development programme whereby staff can volunteer to study English at evening classes run by Driestar Educatief, a teacher training college. This course enables participants to work towards a Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE) or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) qualification, which is required to teach bilingually. A part of this programme is a study trip to language schools in England. The benefits of this trip, are that there is a particular focus upon speaking in English and pronunciation; and participants are exposed to English language and culture in a way not possible in the Netherlands. This application is for the costs associated with sending 40 members of staff, who are following the English course, to attend the study trip. The participants are all volunteers who support the school's bilingual education policy and are thus highly motivated in working towards their goal of becoming qualified to teach in English themselves.
Previous study trips have proven the lasting impact and results that study trips can have. Firstly upon the participants themselves, who still talk highly about the teachers at the language schools and the experiences they had in host families. Secondly, the study trips help more staff achieve the necessary qualifications to teach bilingually, which will eventually enable the full implementation of bilingual teaching in the VMBO stream. Thirdly, the participant's colleagues also learn tips about bilingual teaching methods and are inspired to join the course themselves. Fourthly, a passion is generated for English language and culture which teachers pass onto their pupils in the classroom. Fifthly, the school expects in the long term to see an improvement in exam results as has been seen in the VWO stream.
In addition to the impact within the school, Van Lodenstein College is also trying to have an impact within the wider reformed Christian community by encouraging those from outside the school to participate in the English course and attend the study trip at their own cost. The intention is to generate understanding for the school's work and an interest for the English language and culture in the wider community.
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