A conference on bilingual education and professional training for teachers in the French-English bilingual schools network in Australia were held at Killarney Heights Public School in Sydney (14-17 September 2015)
In 2014, the Embassy of France in Australia and Telopea Park School, the French-Australian school in Canberra, had jointly organised the first professional training session for teachers working in bilingual schools.
In view of the tremendous success of this first session, and with the aim to further support the growing French-Australian bilingual schools network, a second professional training session was held from the 14th to the 17th of September 2015, in partnership with Killarney Heights Public School (Sydney) and with financial support from the Institut Français.
This year, seven pre-schools and primary schools - all certified or with the FrancEducation Label; and all members of the AAFEBS (Australian Association of French-English Bilingual Schools) – coming from four Australian States (the ACT, Victoria, NSW and Queensland), each sent two of their teaching staff to this training session. The host school, Killarney Heights Public School, which was the first school to be granted the FrancEducation Label in Australia in 2013, hosted the training session.
The training put a particular focus on teacher pairings, as the majority of issues occurring in class result from the inadequate distribution of French and Australian curriculums in class. Training was delivered through theoretical discussions, group workshops – including on bilingualism at school, and learning how to write in both languages – and in-class practice sessions at Killarney Heights Public School.
Ms Claire Colombel, bilingual and intercultural teaching specialist, instructor, and Head of the Kanak Languages and Cultures Department at the Institut de Formation des Maîtres in New Caledonia, delivered the training over four consecutive days. Such extensive involvement of a training instructor from New Caledonia testifies to the continuous strengthening of relations in the education sector between New Caledonia and Australia – which is a priority for this Embassy.
Additionally, on Monday 14 September, and in complement to the professional training sessions, a public conference was held at Killarney Heights Public School, discussing “How should we raise a child bilingual? What are the advantages and challenges to bilingual education?” The conference featured speakers Mrs Ruth Fielding from the University of Canberra - who presented the results of recent research work on family education and bilingual teaching - and Mrs Claire Colombel - who linked this research to bilingual teaching in New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
The conference ended with closing comments from the Consul General of France, Mr Nicolas Croizer, on Mrs Fielding and Mrs Colombel’s presentations.