French is one of the three official business languages of many international institutions including the European Union, the UN and the IOC. It is spoken as the first language in 29 countries and is the 5th most widely spoken language in the world. In our department we raise awareness of the importance of language and language learning, both in the classroom and on trips to France, and our highly experienced and qualified staff employ a range of teaching strategies which combine the best of new ideas with excellent practice.

About the department

We aim to develop skills, confidence and creativity in the four key areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing. Teachers are specialised, experienced and enthusiastic, using a wide range of activities and strategies to help students enjoy learning foreign languages while developing their linguistic ability. Authentic resources and the use of the foreign language in and outside the classroom are considered a vital part of languages teaching at St Mary’s and the department offers a range of extracurricular activities and trips abroad in order to enhance the language learning experience at our school.

Key Stage 3
Key Stage 3
Our Key Stage 3 curriculum provides our students with the key concepts of grammar, content and cultural understanding that they need to succeed.  We use a range of teaching resources Including the "Studio" text books.  Topics are taught through the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing but we also focus an the core grammar points in preparation for the GCSE course. Pupils are encouraged to participate actively in lessons.  We incorporate engaging activities to support learning in every lesson, such as singing French songs using mini whiteboards, watching cultural video clips and playing competitive team games online in our computer room. We subscribe to various languages learning websites that pupils can access both at home and at school.
Year 7

-Describing yourself and others


- Hobbies

- Where you live

- Holidays

Year 8



- All about you

- Home

- Your talents

Year 9

-Social life

-Healthy living

-Jobs and careers


Key Stage 4
Key Stage 4
Students who opt to study French at GCSE will follow the AQA syllabus. The course builds upon the skills developed at Key Stage 3 and further develops fluency and depth on the following topics:

1. Identity and culture

2. Local, national, international and global areas of interest

3. Current and future study and employment

Students are assessed on 4 skills, and can be entered either at foundation or higher level.

Foundation Higher
Paper 1 - Listening - 25% 35 minutes 45 minutes Students answer a variety of questions on extracts recorded by native French speakers.
Paper 2 - Speaking - 25% 7-9 minutes 10-12 minutes Students will have to take part in a role play, describe a photo and have a general conversation on the topics studied.
Paper 3 - Reading - 25% 45 minutes 1 hour Students will have to answer a range of questions on French texts. There will also be a translation from French to English.
Paper 4 - Writing -25% 1 hour 1 hour 15 Students will have to write a short structured task in French and if entered for higher, an open ended task. There will also be a translation from English to French.

Exam Board:  AQA - Specification 8658

For further details please visit:

Key Stage 5
Key Stage 5
Students who opt to study A Level French will follow the AQA syllabus. The course build upon the four skills developed at GCSE and covers a wide range of topics including:

1. Aspects of French-speaking society: current trends

- The changing nature of family

-The 'cyber-society'

- The place of voluntary work

2. Artistic culture in the French-speaking world

- A culture proud of its heritage

- Contemporary francophone music


3. Current issues in French society
- Positive features of a diverse society
- Life for the marginalised
- How criminals are treated

4. Aspects of political life in the French speaking world
- Teenagers, the right to vote and political commitment
- Demonstrations, strikes – who holds the power?
- Politics and immigration

Students will also study a film, currently Kiffe kiffe demain by Faïza Guène.

In Year 13 students will complete an independent research project on a topic of their choice.

Students are assessed in 4 areas:

Paper 1 50% 2h30 minutes Listening, reading and translations
Paper 2 20% 2 hours Two essays on each of the works studied
paper 3 30% 21-23 minutes Discussion on one of the themes studied and presentation of the individual research project.

Exam Board: AQA - Specification 7652

For further details please visit:

The government has recognised that there is a modern languages skills gap. Choosing to study a language at degree level is a way of boosting your employability.


Besides the traditional paths of interpreting, translating and teaching, students with language skills are in demand. Universities value a Languages A-level as a highly academic subject due to the transferable skills that students develop - these skills can be used in almost any career with pathways including jobs in business, law, journalism, politics, architecture and engineering. There are now many university courses which combine languages study with another subject.

For further information about the French curriculum please contact:

Mrs S Pugh
Head of French Department