OWRI Student Language Ambassador Programme

We are delighted to report on the success of the Cross-OWRI Ambassadors Project which you can read about in the independent report commissioned from Alcantara Communications:

The primary aim of the programme was to raise the number of students progressing from GCSE to A level in a language across a group of schools in each of four regions of the UK. Pupils undertook either (i) a ‘short programme’ consisting of two classroom interventions led by the ambassadors (one on Translation and one on Careers with Languages) and a visit to the lead university which included a guided tour in the language, a taster session where they start to learn a language from scratch, and a talk from a member of academic staff on a cultural topic relating to the language they are learning; or (ii) an ‘extended programme’ consisting of all components of the short programme plus an intensive mentoring programme. While the ‘short programme’ targeted all pupils in the GCSE classes in question, the ‘extended programme’ targeted GCSE pupils who had scored themselves as ‘3’ or ‘4’ on a 1-5 scale as to whether they were likely to study a language at A level. On this scale, 1 = definitely will not; 2 = probably will not; 3 = don’t know; 4 = probably will; 5 = definitely will.

The key findings from the programme are:

1. Overall, 14% of pupils who had taken part in the programme (short and extended programmes combined) opted to take a language post-16. This compares very favourably with national progression rates of between 6% and 9% for French, German, and Spanish.

2. The mentoring element was particularly successful: 29% of pupils (40 out of 137) on the extended programme, which included mentoring, opted to take a language at A level.

3. 35% of those taking the extended programme and 20% of those taking the short programme said they were more likely to opt to take a language at A level after taking part.

4. Of those pupils choosing to take a language at A level, around 75% were pupils who had self-rated at the outset as 1, 2, 3, or 4, i.e. they ranged from those who said they definitely would not take a language at A level to those who probably would, but none had taken a firm decision to do so.

5. Amongst the target group of pupils who had rated themselves 3 or 4 at the outset, for whom the programme was designed, 21% chose to take a language. Four out of five of these pupils had taken the extended programme, which included the mentoring element.

6. Pupils on the extended programme rated the mentoring very highly, with 38% judging it ‘excellent’ and more than half considering it ‘good’. More than half rated this the most useful element of the programme, and an equally high proportion rated the help they received from their mentor as ‘excellent’. Student ambassadors also judged the mentoring as the most successful element.

7. Pupils who undertook only the short programme rated the university visit as the most positive element of the programme.

8. 45% of pupils overall said they were more aware of opportunities with languages following the programme – 60% who took the extended programme and 40% of those who took the short programme.

9. Feedback from teachers indicates that the mentoring on the extended programme was beneficial to pupils including those who did not opt to take a language.

10. Four out of five student ambassadors rated the programme 7 or more out of 10. They were able to point to a wide variety of benefits for themselves, with several referencing future careers as teachers.

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