our words make worlds

Promoting Transition between Primary and Secondary Phases in Hackney through Exploring a Joint Approach to an Inclusive and Diverse Curriculum


Since September 2013, advised by educational consultant Bernadette Clinton, schools in Hackney, London, have been implementing Spanish as the First Foreign language in both primary and secondary. All primary and secondary schools were involved by September 2014. Starting with teaching year 3 pupils, by September 2018 Hackney had its first cohort who had studied Spanish for 4 years transferring to Hackney secondary schools.

In 2019 the borough began to develop Units of Work which highlight a more culturally inclusive curriculum: in Art, focusing on the work of Wifredo Lam and Laurence Zuñiga (Black Cuban Artists), and in History the role of the Conquistadores in the power relationship between Spain and Latin America and in Geography looking at a contrasting setting exploring the Amazon and global warming. The aim was partly to explore the part that role models play in inspiring young learners.

In March 2020, Language Acts supported schools to present their findings on how this has supported transition work and feedback from pupils on the impact of successful black role models. The conference took place 12 March at Tomlinson Training Centre in Hackney, attended by 46 people, and a report from Bernadette Clinton is below.


This was a joint primary – secondary session with the purpose of strengthening the transition arrangements from year 6 to year 7 and to develop some Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approaches in secondary and primary. It was an opportunity to develop the supportive network of practice between primary and secondary teachers of Spanish, to learn about ways to teach listening and speaking skills, to moderate pieces of pupils’ writing to gauge the standard required and to share ideas and planning of CLIL projects.

We consider that it is vital for primary and secondary Spanish teachers to work together in order to ensure a smooth transition from primary to secondary by understanding each other’s viewpoint and needs, and respecting each other’s skills and expertise. We have been keen since the start of the Spanish as First Language Initiative in Hackney in 2013 to involve secondary colleagues and engage them in the process of implementing Spanish across all sectors.

Over the course of this year, our emphasis has been on promoting these links through joint work on curriculum areas. The chance to carry out some intensive work came through the Erasmus+ course in February involving 7 secondary and 11 primary colleagues. For one week, they worked together to understand the theoretical and practical basis of the CLIL approach in Tenerife. The schools there shared their experiences and expertise as well as teachers having the chance to visit schools and to begin to plan their own CLIL activities back in school.

This small grant funding gave us the opportunity to bring everyone together and to share ideas for CLIL projects. This lead to a great deal of discussion on the nature and aims of CLIL. Teachers will now work together to produce Action Plans for a small-scale project and to deliver that project in the first half of the summer term. They will report again on outcomes at our dissemination conference on 3rd July.

In addition to the primary and secondary teachers present, there were CLIL experts from the Consejería de Educación in London plus researchers from Kings who are engaged in researching the Hackney Spanish Initiative.