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Dallam School's language success translates into cash
THOUSANDS of pounds has been awarded to a South Lakeland school for showing innovation in foreign language teaching.
British Academy judges were impressed with a bilingual initiative at Milnthorpe’s Dallam School.
Alongside timetabled language classes, pupils also spend some tutor time and other lessons speaking entirely in Spanish or French.
Dallam was named north of England winner for creative foreign language teaching and picked up a £4,000 prize.
The money will be used to install a classroom language laboratory with networked video cameras, digital recording and playback equipment.
Teachers will use the centre to analyse their bilingual tutor group lessons and pass on learning, provide facilities for the University of Cumbria and give pupils a live link to partner schools in Granada and Bergerac.
Colin Ralph-Bradshaw, head of language at Dallam School, said year seven pupils were first given the chance to have some lessons in French or Spanish in 2008.
“When Schools Minister Nick Gibb visited us earlier in the year he saw how this initiative had dramatically increased the grades of year nine students and allowed them to sit their GCSE exams two years early,” he explained.
“It’s obvious that this is a very effective and natural way to learn a language.”
Dallam was selected out of 159 UK schools to win the prize and could be crowned national winner in November.
The school — a specialist language college — was graded outstanding at its last Ofsted inspection in 2010.
Bilingual groups in years seven, eight and nine have lessons including personal, social and health education and humanities subjects in another language.
Language tutorials ensure students get extra exposure to another language daily, while activities including international days, French cooking and exchange opportunities add a fun element.
Mr Ralph-Bradshaw added: “We’ve introduced some fun ways to learn through bilingual film studies events, cookery days, adventure learning and using famous artists for a self-portrait session.
“The tutor groups provide a great place for more social type discussions.”
The British Academy, established by Royal Charter in 1902, is the UK’s national body for the humanities and social science.
A spokeswoman said teaching foreign languages in an exciting and creative way was ‘fundamental to motivating students'.
She added: “We’re really pleased to see a UK school taking such a bold initiative in teaching subjects in a variety of languages.
This is just the type of creative teaching project the British Academy’s awards are seeking to encourage.”