German is one of three modern languages offered to students from Year 8 onwards. It is a well-established subject with a proven track-record, as results in public examinations amply testify.
In recent years, over 90% of pupils have achieved A or A* grades at GCSE after four years of study, while over the longer term since 1988 when GCSE started, 1192 of our 1278 entered candidates reached these grades. At A level over the same period, 180 of our total entry of 233 students achieved grades A and B.
Lively and compelling courses, delivered with a degree of rigour, ensure that students understand how German works. It is not merely a matter of learning how to get by with phrase-book formulations. The basic course material is supplemented by video, satellite and internet class materials and interactive programmes on PC. These are available in all four rooms in the department suite.
To GCSE we pursue a unitised course which paces students' motivation throughout years 10 and 11. Students appreciate the advantages of the controlled assessment which allow them to complete parts of their GCSE before they enter the examination room in the summer of their Year 11.
The take-up of German in the Sixth Form has in recent years has been excellent. Our Sixth Form course involves little or no literature, at least not in the manner of A Level language studies a generation ago. In its place, we study in German the history of Berlin 1945 until 1980 and the problems of immigration and multi-culturalism in contemporary Germany. We are also due to begin studying German Film as part of the Cultural Topics at A2 level.
Trips and Exchanges are a very important part of what we offer. They make a measurable difference to examination results and to levels of motivation throughout the school.
In Year 8, seven weeks after starting German, a coach full of twelve year olds visits the Rheinland for six days away from home. As the photograph shows, it isn't all swimming, football and generally letting off steam. The course covers post-Napoleonic Franco-German conflicts and the creation of the EU, the institution we hope will have settled the issue once and for all. Obviously learning some German, eating German food and generally learning to feel at home there, are also part of the aim.
In Years 10 and 12, we have a student Exchange arrangement with a mixed grammar school in Bonn. Between 35 and 40 students take up the opportunity every year and many of the friendships which ensue last well beyond the two weeks of one's visit to the German partner's household. In recent years, a work-experience component has been added to the Exchange for Year 12 students who have variously work-shadowed in a hospital, an art gallery, a bank, the armed forces, a veterinary surgery, a theatre, an electronics factory, an archaeological dig, a T.V. studio, a publishing house and many more. Needless to say, for more or less all the seventeen year olds involved in this programme, their experience of work in Germany has been more or less life-altering.
The level of staff involvement in the organisation of all this is considerable, but the efffect on students' progress is so dramatic that the Department considers is well worth the effort.
Head of Department
R A Catterall, MA
Members of the Department
K G Brace, BA
K M Hiepko, MA