Maximising Potential

About Maximising Potential - Introduction

What is Maximising Potential?

Photo of pupil writing at board with teacher looking on

Maximising Potential is a progressive programme of curriculum development. It is designed to support individual modern language teachers and modern language departments in meeting the needs of an ever-widening range of learners.

It provides starting points for curriculum development in the form of points for reflection, each followed by practical tasks that focus on specific pupils or groups of pupils who are giving cause for concern.

It suggests ways of managing learning that can make it easier to meet the needs of individual learners within a whole class setting and ways of enriching the teaching programme for all learners.

The programme is designed to help with the process of change; it does not dictate the outcomes.

Who will find it useful?

The Maximising Potential programme will be of interest to:

  • individual teachers, for reflection, and perhaps for professional development
  • teachers concerned about the progress of certain pupils or classes
  • modern language departments who have already decided that change is needed if an increasingly wide range of learners is to be effectively catered for in modern languages
  • student teachers and newly qualified teachers
  • anyone who feels that change is needed but who doesn’t know where to begin.

Why should modern languages and support for learning staff work together?

A key feature of earlier work with schools was professional collaboration between modern language teachers and teachers who provide support in modern language classes. Whether or not they spoke the target language, support staff members' training and experience meant that they were often able to provide valuable insights into the real learning needs of the children and young people they supported; modern language teachers were often surprised by what they learned. Often a small adjustment was all that was needed in order to make a big difference to the pupils concerned.

Modern language teachers who are planning to use these materials are urged to seek ways and means to involve their support for learning (SfL) colleagues right from the start, as full members of the development team or as consultants/advisers to a formal project in your school. The project provides support for the collaborative process while leaving the choice of focus to individual schools.

Find more details on the role of support staff.

Is this a new programme?

This programme is based on school-based project work carried out with the aid of consultants in 11 Scottish secondary schools over six years, against a background of continuing professional development, curriculum innovation and school improvement.

In the course of these projects, the consultants became convinced that, in the main:

  • children and young people do want to be successful languages learners (despite what they may say to hide feelings of inadequacy)
  • all but a very small number of pupils are capable of enjoying some success if given appropriate teaching
  • children and young people are thrilled by the experience of success.

The consultants were also convinced that all children and young people can benefit from foreign language learning, although not all of them actually do.

About this online programme

In-school projects managed by a consultant, though very effective, are expensive and reach a relatively small number of practitioners. This is an online version of the programme that practitioners can use without consultancy support. Most of the materials have already been piloted in schools; only the online method of delivery is new.

CPD managers may wish to consider viewing the programme as a contribution to a teacher’s continuing professional development or to a departmental development programme. Formal documents to assist with managing this can be found in Guidance for school managers.