The first foreign language studied is French, which is taught formally from Year 6 onwards. However, in line with current thinking, younger pupils in the Preparatory School will benefit from regular exposure to French at Key Stages 1 and 2. During Year 7, all pupils, except those who are not native speakers of English, have four lessons of French each week.
In Year 8, all pupils except those who require additional learning support, begin Spanish which they continue until the end of Year 9, when they make their GCSE choices. Most pupils study at least one language to GCSE and typically about a quarter of the year-group will continue with both their languages.
Our GCSE results are very good, with pass-rates normally exceeding 95% in both languages, and often reaching 100%. In recent years, several pupils have achieved one of the five highest marks gained in the country with the AQA exam board. French and Spanish are both offered at AS and A-level. Small set sizes allow pupils to benefit from one-to-one attention and really fulfil their potential.
Pupils follow the OCR specification and usually sit AS-level at the end of Year 12 and A2 at the end of the following year. At all stages, however, we do our best to accommodate pupils arriving with an atypical knowledge of a language.
For more detailed information, please refer to the relevant course booklet.
The department has five dedicated rooms at its disposal, including a digital language laboratory with twenty-four networked work stations. All rooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards, subject specific software and up to date audiovisual equipment.
French: Tricolore Total (Years 6-9), Encore Tricolore/AQA GCSE French (Years 10-11), Elan (Years 12-13)
Spanish: Mira/Listos (Years 8-11), Sigue (Years 12-13)
Pupils have the opportunity to use the language centre to learn a range of other languages in their free time, and senior pupils can watch a Spanish or French film one lunchtime a week. The Department also aims to host foreign language productions for younger pupils and puts on a "linguists' dinner" for Year 11 and above. In addition to a meal with an international menu, diners are entertained by a diverse programme of poetry, drama, dance and music from around the world, performed by students and native speakers of a great many languages. In recent years pupils have also entered poetry reading and translating competitions, as well as 'Linguafest' - an inter-southwest schools language competition.
Each year, pupils from Year 9 and above have the opportunity to visit either France or Spain during the Easter Holiday. Typically, they will stay with a host family and experience local culture with their friends through a programme of excursions. More senior pupils may also undertake language lessons during their stay. Additional trips for A-level linguists may be arranged. During the Summer Term, junior pupils have the chance to welcome a French child into their home. Some have then made a reciprocal visit to Paris, while others have remained in contact and developed a lasting friendship.