Projest A.2 (8/2005)
Whole-School Language Profiles and Policies
Antoinette Camilleri Grima
This is a blueprint to help you develop, write and implement
a language policy for your school. It deals with the
general concept of a whole-school language policy
and invites you to situate this activity firmly in the context
of the real circumstances of your school. Language plays a
fundamental role, not only in a child"s education, but
also in the areas of social enrichment
and cognitive development. A whole-school
language policy will recognize the existing strengths of both
school and community, and will give clear guidelines for further
reflecting and improving abilities and values.
We believe that making linguistic
diversity a whole-school issue will
raise sensitivity and increase respect
for all languages. We can transform
diversity into a resource, and developing
a whole-school language policy can be of
benefit to pupils, staff, parents
and others associated with your school.
1. Why develop a Whole-School Language
A whole-school language policy enables your school to have
a shared philosophy on all aspects of language
education. This process would normally
involve an exercise in problem identification,
fact gathering, decision making, implementation
and evaluation (Corson 1990). A continual repetition
of this cycle would be ideal.
A whole-school language policy
- Is a focusing device that
gives an opportunity to the
school to embark on a process of
reflection, and reflective practice
- Is a form of organisational
analysis is that provides a school
with means to becoming more efficient
and professional as an institution offering a co-ordinated
and coherent approach to language education
- Guides school personnel to take
stock of their successes, current
needs and opportunities, and thus find a clearer direction
- Contains public and accessible
information to everyone on relevant
aspects, reinforces appropriate messages
in favour of plurilingual education
and thus becomes a form of commitment
- Is an instrument of communication
that helps to establish effective
working partnerships between the stakeholders
- Positions the school within a wider national and international
context in terms of language education and provides a framework
for coping with change
2. What is a Whole-School La nguage Policy?
A whole -school language policy is
a dynamic action statement consisting of principles,
aims and strategies. It is a shared document for all stakeholders
and expresses a common vision of the role and status of all
languages relevant to life within a school. It is ideally
developed following organised discussions,
a school language audit and
a profiling exercise. A healthy policy would
be authored and owned by all stakeholders. It should include
a rationale for its aims, as well as a declaration about who
is responsible to carry out which tasks by when.
The aims should be related to
- Raising all participants" awareness
about, and the significance of,
language and language education in their life
- The identification of needs of learners and of staff,
and the suggestion of how to meet those needs
- The creation of a climate
of working together, building on
existing linguistic resources for the benefit of everyone
Strategies for reaching the aims normally include
- The specification of hom e-school partnerships
- Ways of restructuring the formal curriculum, e.g. languages
as subjects, language as medium of instruction, cross-curricular
- Models of fostering plurilingualism outside lesson time,
e.g. extra-curricular activities, participation
in and out of school language
events and initiatives, bringing the community
to the school
- A statement about the provision of supporting means
for linguistic plurality, e.g. multiple language
displays in school corridors and
common areas; bilingual documentation for parents,
- The specification of
success criteria, including
strategies for implementing, monitoring
and evaluating the policy
3. How to develop and implement a Whole-School
The following is a step by step approach for developing and
implementing a whole-school language policy. It
provides a series of helpful questions and actions that need
to be considered and put in place. Time and patience
are necessary when following a developmental approach.
(a) Establish t hat there
is sufficient support for the idea
- Why do we need to have a whole-school language policy?
- Who will lead the process for developing a policy?
- What support is available for this process to be a successful
- Who would benefit from it?
- Can the school sustain this policy over a long period
- Who is willing to participate in the process?
- What sources are there for collecting the necessary information?
- What structures already exist, or need to be developed,
in order to involve the stakeholders in
- Is the Head of School, senior
management team, board of governors
, parents" associations, and other
stakeholders enthusiastic about
developing a whole-school language policy?
- Do any of the stakeholders
have a vision for a whole-school
- Is there a climate of trust and support among those involved?
- Are any serious conflicts likely
to emerge in the process?
Are there means for dealing with them?
- Can a task force of responsible personnel be delegated
to oversee the process?
- Discuss the idea for developing
a whole-school language policy with
relevant stakeholders, e.g. senior management
team, parents" associations, educational
- Prepare a working document that includes a convincing
- Identify the perceived benefits for everyone involved
- Identify the resources (time, financial etc) that are
- Create a task force to set the process going
(b) Develop a whole-school
- Who will conduct the audit
that leads to the establishment
of a whole-school
- Is everyone convinced of the need for this audit?
- Who is willing to be directly involved in the audit and
in the writing of the profile
- Embark on an audit
- Summarise the results and include references to the successful
aspects as well as
to the weaker areas, but focus
more concretely on existing opportunities
and resources that the school can build on
- Decide on the needs and priorities for your school
- Explain the width of activities
that the school is prepared
to be responsible for under its own policy
- Formulate aims and strategies for a whole-school language
policy based on these results
- Specify the implications for financial,
managerial and political facets
of the exercise
- Establish success criteria for your whole-school policy
- Have you set a realistic time-frame?
- What other events will need to give way to this process,
and how can this be done smoothly?
- Is this process generating more enthusiasm or is it stifling
the whole idea?
- Would it be beneficial to convince further any of the
stakeholders who seem to be
resisting some of the ideas put forward?
- In what way do the needs identified following the audit
correspond to the initial
(c) Draft a whole-school
language policy document
- In consultation with the task force draft a whole-school
language policy document
that reflects the needs, aims and values of the stakeholders
- Set realistic goals that are specific and practicable
- Specify who will be responsible to do what and by when
- Formulate a budget
- Disseminate the draft and set a deadline for a specified
process of consultation on
the document, e.g. send a questionnaire together with the
- Make sure that copies are available in all the relevant
- Is the draft policy document written clearly and in a
- Is it accessible to all possible interested parties, and
others who might be able to contribute to a more refined
document? Can/should it be better advertised?
- To what extent is the policy realistic and expressed in
a way that it can achieve its goals?
(d) Refine and finalise the policy
- Compile all the information collected during the consultation
- Analyse the data collected while giving consideration
to every commens
- Acknowledge all feedback received
- To what extent is the feedback reliable?
- Which feedback is most useful and appropriate?
- Is there some aspect that needs further clarification?
- Modify and re-write the draft policy document on the basis
of the results obtained
- Ascertain the approval of all
stakeholders for the final whole
-school language policy document
- Produce a polished version of
the final document , possibly in
different formats, e.g. executive and main versions,
key points on a flyer, poster or displa y, letters to public
entities and private individuals
- Make a plan for the dissemination exercise
- Prepare the ground for implementation
(e) Disseminate and
implement the final policy document
- Offer copies to persons involved on an individual basis
- Involve staff, students, parents etc. in the dissemination
- After identifying the date of implementation, launch the
process with a ceremony
or some form of tangible operation
- Make sure that everyone is clear about their responsibilities
- Work with all stakeholders to ensure that the objectives
- Has the launching of the policy been successful and why?
- Which parts of the policy have been most welcome and why?
- Is there already an indication that there"s an element
of difficulty in implementing
- Should the same task
force or another one
be set up to
monitor the implementation?
4. How to monitor and evaluate a Whole-School
- To what extent is everyone performing their relevant duties?
- Do you need to make changes to the programme of implementation?
- Are the objectives of implementation being met?
- What discrepancies are there between policy and practice?
- Are all stakeholders happily involved?
- Does everyone feel they are making a contribution?
- Do people feel they are achieving some results?
- Set regular meetings with stakeholders to review the implementation
- Establish a structure for a formal evaluation of the various
aspects of the policy to
be carried out after a reasonable period of time
- Record in various ways
what is going on,
e.g. using video, photography,
interviews, oral and written feedback
- What level of curiosity and excitement is being generated
with regard to language education in particular, and with
reference to the school in general?
- Has there been a substantial improvement in language attitudes?
- Can you measure the improvement in language skills?
- Have you observed any other side effects, whether positive
The lengthy and painstaking process of planning, implementing
and evaluating a whole- school language policy should be concluded
with a major conference where each of the stakeholders could
present their appraisal. A final evaluation document
can be generated. Further development can be agreed upon taking
into account the experience gained, the pitfalls that need
to be avoided, and the success that has been celebrated..