A SOUTH Lakeland school has been named both national and north of England winner at the British Academy’s Schools Language Awards for 2012.

The national recognition of Dallam School’s innovative and creative foreign language teaching also brings with it a cash prize of £4,000 for each award.

Selected out of 159 schools, the judges were impressed by the bilingual initiative where pupils spend tutor time and some lessons conversing entirely in Spanish or French.

Dallam head Steve Holdup, who collected the award in London, said: ”We went along to the ceremony expecting to accept our prize for best school in the north and came away with the national prize.

“We’ve £8,000 to spend on further innovation in language learning and lots of national recognition.”

Professor Sir Adam Roberts, president of the British Academy, said: “The final prize winners demonstrated exemplary innovation in their language programmes.

“The projects were able to demonstrate that they are sustainable and replicable, and have great potential to motivate students to develop their language skills.”

The language award judges unreservedly recommended the tutor groups project as an ‘inspiration’ to language departments.

“It is at once simple, ambitious, yet achievable,” said Prof Roberts.

“I have never experienced use of the second language at this level of consistency and complexity. It is not simply a question of pupils using set phrases: they are genuinely creative, and are acquiring and developing language learning strategies and knowledge about the language.

“Foreign languages pervade the school curriculum without dominating it. Pupils learn very quickly to say what they want to say and are unafraid to make mistakes.”

Dallam’s language successes have gone from strength to strength with 88 per cent of pupils passing the International Baccalaureate compared to a world average pass rate of 78 per cent.

Dallam School is also a member of the Teaching Agency’s bilingual teaching initiative.

The prize money is being earmarked for initiatives including installing a classroom laboratory with networked video cameras, digital recording and playback equipment to allow teachers to analyse their lessons, pass on learning, and provide facilities for student teachers.