Modern Languages are very popular at the school. Over several years we have worked very hard to create our own distinctive “House Style” and our resources, innovative lessons and commitment to being at the cutting edge of language teaching have delivered this aim. We are not only often asked to put on lessons and training in the professional development department in school but we are contacted for advice by colleagues in other schools, in both the state and private sector, in Cumbria and further afield. MFL take up at Key Stage 4 is good (we usually get at least half of the year group opting for a language at GCSE). We offer French as our first language and Spanish as our second.
Over the years, we have had pleasing results at GCSE in national terms. Take up at A Level has been steady and we have a very good Oxbridge success record. We have worked closely with the University of Cumbria, and are now involved in the Schools Direct Programme to train new entrants to the profession. We have good links with our primary schools and have put on lessons in our professional development room to share good practice with our primary partners in addition to inviting our primary colleagues into school to see our lessons and Asia Club in action, and meet our international mentors.
All members of the department are subject specialists and highly experienced. We are fortunate to be housed in our own modern languages suite of rooms in the former “House Block”, itself retaining many of its original features. All rooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards and data projectors, and we also have our own netbooks, ipads and an electronic response system acquired through our work with Connecting Classrooms. Our Head of Department and two students have presented at an international conference in Taiwan on the subject of Innovative use of IT in promoting international links.
French is introduced as the first foreign language in Year 7. In Year 8 and 9, pupils are set by ability. The top two sets also study Spanish. At KS4 pupils have the option of continuing with either language or both to the full course GCSE. We enter the pupils for the AQA syllabus. In the Sixth Form students can continue with either language or both to AS/A level standard and are also entered for the AQA syllabus. There is an additional Latin option in 6th Form and we offer several clubs, including Greek, and Sign Language.
We have a very successful “Asia Club” for students from Years 7 – 13, are closely involved in the Cumbria Connecting Classrooms project, enjoying links/an exchange with schools in Korea and Taiwan.
As a result of the international dimension at the school we were recently awarded Full International Status by the British Council. Each year we recruit a group of international mentors who are trained to deliver global citizenship to younger students. This project, which is based on our very successful peer-mentoring model, also run by MFL staff, links Modern Languages, ICT and Citizenship. Last year, we piloted bilingual teaching projects teaching some Geography and Biology through the medium of French.
In addition our Key Stage 3 children have penfriends in French schools in Rouen, St Alban and Quimper.