Leading Little Linguists

Leading Little Linguists

Development of a cross-phase school partnership

Pre-school aged girl painting at an easel in a school setting.

What is it?

Sep. 2016- June 2019

The School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) is committed to developing closer and deeper relationships with schools in Northern Ireland. Funding has been granted to establish a cross-phase school partnership and pilot an evidence-based model for primary languages in Northern Ireland. This will be led by NICILT.

Who will take part?

St. Patrick's Academy, Edendork Primary & St. Patrick's Primary, Dungannon

In June 2016, 3 schools were chosen to lead the project. One post-primary school will lead the project with two feeder primary schools- one urban and one rural. The aim is to research a practical way forward for modern languages education and the whole school issues of internationalisation and leadership of transition from Key Stage 2 to 3.


  • Introduce or enhance a modern language from Primary 5 to Primary 7
  • Develop in-house capacity to delivery a language at primary level
  • Develop more meaningful relationships with local schools, NICILT and Queen's University Belfast
  • Contribute to taught sessions on the PGCE in Modern Languages
  • Develop post-primary pupils as language leaders
  • Become a model of good practice, contributing to research and policy in the field of primary languages
  • Contribute to the literacy and numeracy strands of the post-primary PGCE programme at Queen's University Belfast
  • Develop the skills of teachers to co-author an academic paper for submission to a peer-reviewed journal in education.



Year 1 of Project

Meet the teachers

NICILT met the A-level French pupils and teachers from St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon, that will be going to two primary schools to teach French in January 2017. The primary schools are St. Patrick's Primary School and Edendork Primary School. Lesson planning has begun already. Stay posted for more information soon.


2016 – 2017: initial meeting of project team; development of primary teacher capacity to teach primary languages; requisition of resources; initial research with pupils as part of a Children’s Research Advisory Group; begin teaching language in term 2 to P5; identify post-primary language leaders; opportunities for teachers to contribute to QUB PGCE.

2017 - 2018: continue to develop primary teacher capacity; teach primary languages in P5 and P6; begin work on a co-authored research paper about study; consolidate post-primary language leaders; share good practice at a regional conference.

2018 - 2019: teach primary languages across KS2 (P5 to P7); evaluate programme; consider transition to post-primary education; plan for the future; submit research grant applications to external funders to further develop project.