Teachers at five schools in Birmingham, Staffordshire and Shropshire wanted to help students understand how important languages are as work and life skills and to increase take-up of French at Key Stage 4. They were keen for students to bring in other curriculum areas including enterprise, textiles and ICT to demonstrate the value of languages in conjunction with these and to pool their schools’ experience and enthusiasm. The schools collaborated to produce teaching units and schemes of work around the theme of fashion. Each partner school developed a teaching unit based upon an aspect of the fashion industry: units introduced vocabulary and grammar and practical activities – such as booking a hotel during Paris Fashion Week. The project was officially launched on European Day of Languages by Kim Knowles, an industry expert, who highlighted how important language and cultural skills are in fashion and how he personally had benefi ted from them during his career. The pupils were enthralled and the presentation generated almost half an hour of questions. Pupils were then mixed into multi-school teams to participate in a work-based activity in French describing fashion celebrities and challenging stereotypes. For the six weeks afterwards, pupils worked through the units and used their learning to produce their own fashion magazines. These were submitted to Kim at the end of the project and prizes were awarded. Fashion has obvious international relevance with key centres across the world, multilingual role models and multinational brands based outside the UK. The involvement of the fashion industry expert gave the project credibility in the eyes of pupils and teachers alike. The five highly diverse schools – in terms of specialism, pupil background and languages take-up – collaborated effectively on materials development.
Consistency with the European policies in the field of language learning