Pupils at Dallam School celebrated the new year with not one but two awards for language teaching – and an £8,000 prize.
The school was named both National and North of England winner at the British Academy’s Schools Language Awards 2012.
The national recognition of the 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 UK schools, the judges were impressed by a bilingual initiative where pupils spend tutor time and some lessons conversing entirely in Spanish or French.
Head Steve Holdup collected the award in London. He said: “We went along to the ceremony expecting to accept our prize for best school in the North of England and came away with the national prize overall in the UK.
“We’ve £8,000 to spend on further innovation in language learning and lots of national recognition!”
Prof 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 at an important age.
“It is our great hope that these awards will inspire the linguists of the future and that the schools will continue to represent a gold standard for language teaching throughout the UK.”
Dallam, an International Baccalaureate World School and the only state funded one in Cumbria and North Lancashire, attracts students from all over the world.
Its 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.
And 40 per cent of those studying the IB demonstrated the highest level of achievement in English and another language at ‘native speaker’ level.
Dallam School is also a member of the Teaching Agency’s bilingual teaching initiative and is one of only three schools in the country represented on a newly established Ministerial Languages Steering Group.
The prize money is being earmarked for a number of initiatives including installing a classroom laboratory with networked video cameras, digital recording and playback equipment.
This will allow teachers to analyse their bilingual tutor group lessons and pass on learning, provide facilities for the University of Cumbria’s student teachers and give pupils a live link to partner schools in Granada and Bergerac.