Head of Department

Mr A D RobinsonPGCE, MA Hons


All of our courses set out to imbue students with a love of francophone culture and language as well as with practical skills that will serve pupils well in later life. A lingua franca of culture, art, cuisine, and an official language of the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee, and International Red Cross, among others, the study of French is as relevant and rewarding today as ever.

Lower School

Pupils in the Lower Fifth and Upper Fifth sit the Edexcel IGCSE Course. The course comprises five broad topic areas, through which grammar and general linguistic competency are taught. The topics are: Home and Abroad; Education and Employment; House, Home and Daily Routine; The Modern World and Environment; Social Activities, Fitness and Health. The course aims to promote and develop a love for and natural curiosity about French language and culture.

There is no coursework element to the course and all four skills (Listening, Reading, Speaking, Writing) are assessed at the end of the Upper Fifth year and are worth 25% each. The IGCSE course intends to be rigorous enough to prepare pupils for AS Level French whilst remaining accessible enough to equip all students with practical communication and comprehension skills in the language.

Fortnightly 50-minute slots in the Language Laboratory are used to good effect to develop pupils’ speaking and listening skills. Pupils are encouraged to use and develop their ICT skills by preparing PowerPoint presentations, voice recordings, posters, comic strips etc.

Upper School

Pupils studying French in the Sixth Form can choose between a full two-year A Level and a one-year Short Course Pre-U. Details of both courses can be found below.

A Level

We follow the AQA A Level French course. The A Level course assess the four language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening), but also assume a degree of awareness of the broader cultural aspects of life in the countries concerned. The content of the courses is based on a number of contemporary themes and the study of literature, history and film is included within these themes. The following contemporary themes are a sample of what is covered throughout the course: La Cyber-Socété; Les aspects positifs d’une société diverse; Comment on traite les criminels; La politique et l’immigration. Throughout the course, pupils learn to use language effectively to express their ideas, develop an argument and to analyse and evaluate.

Pupils are encouraged to acquire a high level of grammatical competency. The principal aim is to develop confidence and competence in practical communication skills for study, work and leisure. Skills in reading, speaking, writing and listening will develop and pupils will acquire an increased knowledge and understanding of language structures.

The new A Level also affords students the opportunity to undertake a research-based project on an area of interest to the pupil.

Pupils also benefit from weekly lessons in small groups of two or three with the French language assistante to develop spoken fluency and gain confidence in producing accurate language on the spot.

Short Course Pre-U

The Pre-U Short Course in French offers those students who do not wish to opt for a full A Level the opportunity to continue with French in the VIth Form. In so doing, pupils will gain practical language skills and a widely-respected qualification held in high esteem by both universities and employers.

The Pre-U short course follows the CIE specification, which is purely topic-based for the listening, reading and writing components of the exam, but does also offer the opportunity to study a more cultural topic for the speaking exam (this topic may be chosen by the candidate). There is no requirement to study literature as part of the Pre-U. Among the themes studied are the environment; the generation gap; the media; travel and tourism.

The course is particularly suitable for those students with a clear specialism in other subject areas but who would nevertheless like to add a language to support their university application and future job prospects. The course is both rigorous and rewarding and in addition to the obvious linguistic benefits, it seeks to develop pupils’ communication and independent research skills.

Trips and Events

In the Fourth Form, we hold an annual play evening where pupils are invited to watch a performance (entirely in French of course!) by a travelling theatre company. Additionally, pupils in the top two sets are paired with a French penpal from a school in Brittany – a correspondence which gives pupils the opportunity to put their French into practice and which often continues into the Lower Sixth and beyond.

In the Upper Fifth we run a trip to Nice during the Easter holidays. Pupils stay with host families, attend lessons in the morning and undertake cultural activities in the afternoon before returning to their host families in the evening. The timing of the trip is ideal given that the IGCSE orals take place straight after the Easter holidays!

In the Sixth Form, a variety of events and trips are arranged. These have included day trips to conferences, French theatre visits and film evenings. A residential work experience placement trip is also offered to pupils in the Sixth Form.

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