Children at the bilingual free school planned for Spalding next year will grow up in Spain.
At least, to all intents and purposes, the four to 11-year-olds will be in Spain, learning half their lessons in Spanish, eating a Mediterranean diet and immersed in the culture of that country.
“The English won’t suffer because of it – in fact, it will enhance their learning in English and other areas because of the fact that it is opening up pathways in the brain that perhaps otherwise would have lain dormant,” said Carol Clare, chief executive of the Phoenix Family of Schools.
The trust is proposing a bilingual school for Spalding, one of the very few bilingual free schools in the country, and is currently trying to secure town centre premises to open next September.
As well as helping the children’s learning in other areas, speaking two languages is a “gift” to future pupils, says Carol.
“I feel it’s opening up the world to children who are bilingual,” she says. “They have the edge in the global jobs market.”
Spanish was chosen as the second language because, as Carol says, it is the third most commonly spoken language in the world, after English and Chinese Mandarin.
Carol says it is also easier to learn than English, shares the same phonetic system as English – and is useful for summer holidays.
The idea is that children who start at what will be called the Inspirar Academy at reception or Year 1 – ages four, five and six – will leave at age 11 fluent for their age level in Spanish.
In every class, the teacher and a native Spanish speaking teaching assistant will decide what will be taught in which language, with half in each.
There will be a longer lunch hour, similar to the Spanish day, when children will not only enjoy a Spanish diet but immerse themselves in the culture. This will mean a longer school day, from 8.30am to 4pm, with after-school facilities planned.
Carol says the vision is that, in time, the school will be open to children from age two. Part of the trust’s proposal is to hold adult Spanish classes too.
Parents interested in finding out about the school are invited to attend a Spanish themed tapas and cava evening event on Tuesday at the trust’s drop-in centre at 23 Victoria Street from 7-9pm.
Alternatively, drop in any time from 11am onwards to meet the team and ask questions about the school.