The Modern languages Department at St Mary’s R C High School is an excellent and hard working department. It has been even more vibrant since benefiting from the exciting opportunities afforded the school under Language College Status. These opportunities have had a big impact on language learning in the school.
There are nine full time members of staff and three part time members. Oral work is enhanced by language assistants in French, German and Spanish.
Language College Status was awarded in September 1997, and it has brought with it the opportunity of expanding and developing the teaching of languages within the curriculum.
All A band pupils in Year 7 study French and either German or Spanish. Pupils study these two languages throughout KS3. The three B band classes will study one language which will be either French, German or Spanish until Year 9. At the end of Year 9 pupils are entered for the Asset Language exam at either Breakthrough or Preliminary Level in the languages which they will no longer study in Year 10.
At KS4 pupils continue to study one of the languages they studied at KS3 as a core subject and the option system allows the study of two or even three languages including Italian to GCSE level.
French, German, and Spanish are offered at AS and A level. Italian, studied after school, is also offered at A level. Three of our pupils took up places at Oxford to study languages in September 2009, and one in September 2010. In Year 12 most pupils follow either the RSA course in Business Language Competence in French, German and Spanish (Level 1) or study Italian or Russian (ab initio) under the Asset Languages Scheme.
There are five well-equipped classrooms in the Languages block, all with an interactive whiteboard and data projector, OHP and a CD/cassette player.
St Mary’s has recently made a huge investment in IT provision, and there are over 250 PCs on a whole school network. As part of this programme the Languages Department has been equipped with a thirty booth Sanako multi-media language laboratory (updated for September 2010) and a comprehensive range of software in all of the languages studied.
At KS3 and KS4 pupils follow the Métro courses in French, and the Logo course in German. The new Mira course is working its way through KS3 with a view to replacing the Listos course used in KS4. Each pupil is provided with a text book for each subject.
Outreach work at six of St Mary’s main primary feeder schools enables pupils there to experience French and to develop language skills, which are built on in Year 7.
Results in modern languages are excellent at GCSE level, at AS and A level, and pupils are successful in the RSA business languages and Italian and Russian showing that they benefit enormously from their language experience.
There are three thriving annual exchange visits for pupils in years 10 and 12. The French Exchange with Lycée Saint Exupéry near Lyon, the German Exchange with Edith Stein Schule Darmstadt, and the Spanish Exchange with Istituto Ribalta in Castellon on the east coast of Spain are all very successful and enhance the language experience of the pupils. Year 8 pupils have the opportunity of taking part in the very popular annual study trip to Normandy. Spanish pupils from Gijón enjoy visiting the school for a three week period in the summer term each year. This year we are also running a trip to Italy.
Pupils’ language experience is further enhanced by lunch time clubs (French and Japanese). There is also a lunch time and after school Latin class.