French is taught to all our pupils in Year 7 in mixed ability form groups. Some of our pupils will have studied some French prior to arriving in the senior school which can be an advantage in the early weeks. We do not however assume any previous knowledge and pupils new to the subject almost always catch up by the end of the autumn term. In Years 8 and 9 pupils are taught in broad setting based on their performance in the end of Year 7 examination. In Years 7 and 8 our teaching is based around the course book Tricolore Total which contains accompanying ICT online resources. In Year 9 we use Studio 3. We study the language through a systematic grammar based work scheme with regular testing of one of the four skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking at the end of every unit. We conduct our lessons in the target language where it is useful to do so but we are not afraid to explain grammar points or discuss work in English where an awareness of the finer details of language is paramount.
In the GCSE years French becomes an option. Uptake of modern languages in the school continues to be high. We currently take the GCSE AQA examination and intend to use AQA for the foreseeable future.
In Years 12 and 13 we offer AS and A2 courses following the AQA specification. We use the text book produced by Oxford specifically for the course supported by online resources which all students have access to. We conduct our own oral examination.
In order to assist our pupils in the examination years we appoint a French assistant through our link with the British Council. The member of staff helps prepare our students for the presentation and general conversation aspects of the GCSE and with the necessary contemporary cultural awareness needed for A level success.
We subscribe to several periodicals including Le Monde des Ados and Okapi. The most recent copy is in the senior library and back copies are in the departmental office. Pupils are encouraged to watch TV news broadcasts by logging onto French television websites.
We are continually updating the ICT software provision to our students especially in the exam classes. We have purchased Boardworks for powerpoint presentations and our online subscription to Linguastars is used with GCSE groups. Individual PCs linked to data projectors/interactive whiteboards have been installed in our classrooms and material complementary to our course books is on our main network in the ICT suite which classes can use. Sixth formers can access this material in the learning centre in order to further autonomous study.
In the final week of Year 7 we offer a five day residential trip to Paris through Dragons International. We stay in a purpose built centre for students in the Fontainebleau forest. We visit the main sights of Paris including the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Montmartre, Notre Dame Cathedral, and give pupils a boat trip on the Seine and a tour of the Stade de France. 66 boys participated in the trip to France this year.
We have a well-established exchange to Moulins (Central France) for our Year 9 pupils, which began in 1984. Our partner school, Le Collège St.Benoît, is an independent mixed Catholic school. We work in conjunction with our Girls’ Division and are usually able to offer between twenty and twenty-five places to each division.
The principle of the exchange is that a French boy is matched to you and you look after them in your home. Trips and activities are organised each year by the school.
We organise home stay visits in France for our sixth formers through the Ardmore Group (formerly SEE Europe). This year we stayed in the Ile de France (Parisian suburbs).
Our French assistant runs Le Club Français one lunch time per week for lower school pupils offering games and activities. We have a well established French cinema club for sixth formers giving pupils the opportunity to study and watch films on an informal basis. We regularly invite Richard Peltier from Français Facile to organise a French activity day in school.
Head of Department:
A C Robson, BA
Members of the Department:
A M Hall BA
A I McNeil BA, MA
M H J Prentki BA
Miss O M Sullivan BA