Herts for Learning

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Celebrating Primary Writing: Take One Book…and run with it.

Martin Galway shares some of the wonderful work carried out by the pupils and staff at Hare Street Primary School, Harlow, inspired by the Take One Book training and approaches offered by the HfL English team.

Continue reading “Celebrating Primary Writing: Take One Book…and run with it.”

How do we promote teacher resilience?

This edition of Herts for Languages blog sees the launch of the first in a series of guest posts by language experts.  Our last blog of the academic year is on the theme of community and resilience in the language teaching and learning world.

At HfL, we work hard to bring together language teachers; through our training and conferences and through our Strategic Learning Networks for Languages (SLN), launched in 2003.  The SLN, which meet every half-term and are free to join, have enabled collaboration between a wide layer of primary and secondary teachers, improving transition between key stage 2 and 3.  Every year, their work is showcased at our annual SLN presentation and again at our conferences for Primary and Secondary Leaders of Languages conferences in December.  If you would like to join one of our networks, please contact

‘Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable’: communities and resilience in languages


Post by Dr Anna Lise Gordon, President of the Association of Language Learning and Academic Director for Teaching and Learning at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

‘I am delighted to be invited to write this guest blog and have chosen to focus on the importance of community in the MFL teaching profession. Having followed Herts for Languages over a number of years, I am aware of their commitment and energy in leading and supporting modern language enthusiasts across a wide range of primary and secondary schools in Hertfordshire and beyond.

So, what is community? Broadly speaking, it’s a social group of any size who share common values and a shared sense of purpose, often in a specific area of interest. I am involved in a number of professional communities. My level of involvement varies considerably, from being President of ALL which is a busy and active role, to little more than attending meetings to learn from others. The most important online community in my current role is #mfltwitterati, an amazing group of MFL enthusiasts (including @herts_languages) who share their work, ideas and resources freely. This online forum provides a welcome opportunity to celebrate and be inspired by so much positive work that it is going on across the country to inspire children and young people in their language learning.

When we are extremely busy and dealing with a range of challenges, it is easy to think that we do not have time to engage with community. However, there is a Kenyan proverb which encapsulates the importance of community for me: ‘Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable’. We all know the value of collaborative learning, the importance of discussions and networking, as well as the inspiration that comes from sharing ideas with others. I am reminded of these benefits every time I summon the energy after a busy week at work to attend an ALL event, always returning home refreshed, brimming with ideas and ready for action!

At a time when teacher recruitment and retention is of concern, we all have an important role to play in actively supporting new teacher colleagues, modelling the benefits of working collaboratively and encouraging them to join in our communities as equal and valued members.  

Speaking personally and professionally, the Association for Language Learning has been a community of huge significance throughout my career and I would urge you to join me as active members. Be inspired to connect and engage with community, by checking the ALL website –  As a modern language community of teachers, we are stronger together!’


See you in September …

Herts for Languages’ next blog post will be in September.  In the meantime, take time to reflect over the summer on the following quote by John Le Carré, spoken at this year’s German Teacher Awards.

‘To learn a foreign language is an act of friendship;

to teach one an act of generosity and heroism.’

After 44 years of such heroism, it is with much sadness that we say farewell to Jackie Rayment, who has been the Languages Adviser at Herts for Learning for 11 years.  If, as the Kenyan proverb says, ‘sticks tied in a bundle are stronger’, Jackie has been the string holding us together.   So over to Jackie to have the final word and to wish you all happy summer.

‘Dear Colleagues

I am writing to inform you that I will be leaving Herts for Learning at the end of term, as I am retiring after 44 years in education.

Whilst I am excited about this new challenge and chapter of my life, I am also sad to be leaving Hertfordshire. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with so many of you over the past 11 years, and with such outstanding colleagues in secondary, primary and special schools in the LA.

Thank you all for the support and friendship that you have shown me over the years. I have learnt so much from working with you all.

From September, Yvonne Kennedy will take over the reins, so I leave you in her very capable hands.

Best wishes to you all for the future,



Ten top tips for core subject leaders

Kirsten Snook, English Adviser and course trainer for ‘Becoming a Highly Effective Subject Leader’, reflects on what makes the biggest differences to increasingly busy subject leaders and with increasingly tight budgets. Drawing on feedback from course delegates, she outlines some top tips that have helped them this year to really see the fruits of their labours.

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Getting inside Google Classroom

As I have found myself spending a lot of time in a ‘virtual classroom’ of late, I thought I would put virtual pen to paper to create a blog post about this classroom – Google Classroom.

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Come aboard the Hogwarts Express!

Monday 26th June 2017 marks twenty years since the first publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  In this blog, Michelle Nicholson celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the release of JK Rowling’s fabulous book, with some ideas for bringing the story to life in the classroom.

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On bunnies, magic and the genius of Mini Grey…The Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show

Martin Galway suggests that some especially badly behaved rabbits might just deserve a second chance, and a place in your library, in this review of Mini Grey’s latest picturebook.

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Year 6 Writing – in Search of GDS: verb forms – the key to control.

Martin Galway completes his series of blogs on the Greater Depth writing standard for year 6 writing and makes good on his earlier promise to return to the subject of “Selecting verb forms for meaning and effect”.

Continue reading “Year 6 Writing – in Search of GDS: verb forms – the key to control.”

Shifts in Formality: now, that’s the way you do it!

Penny Slater serves up a postscript to her earlier blog on modelling shifts in formality.

You may recall my blog from February 2016 (A Model of Formality) when I offered a lesson/resource suggestion based on securing shifts in formality. It was a phrase that back then, we were just beginning to get our heads around. Now, thanks to the collective endeavour of the teaching profession (those teachers and advisors who have had to work tirelessly to interpret the sometimes  obscure meaning of some of the ITAF statements, such as my colleague has done here, here and here), I think that we all feel a little more comfortable with what a ‘shift’ looks like.

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2017 KS2 Reading Paper: A secret shared and some questions to ask – a year on

In this blog (a direct follow up to her popular entry from last year) Jane Andrews once again analyses the questions served up in the KS2 reading paper and updates her question stem resource for 2017, for use in school. 

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