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The Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) Department at Winifred Holtby Academy knows that languages are vitally important in the modern world. The skills, knowledge and understanding developed through the delivery of the MFL curriculum are essential elements of a young person’s all-round education and competencies needed to enter the workplace at the end of their full time education. Furthermore, the increased understanding of other cultures helps students to develop greater awareness of wider modern society, which is developed through individual and collaborative projects.

We aim to provide students with an enjoyable, practical experience in their Modern Foreign Language lessons. We teach students the necessary skills and provide the confidence by the end of Key Stage 3 to allow them to be able to do as much from memory as possible when studying a language at Key Stage 4. We strive to create an atmosphere in the classroom that motivates and encourages them to communicate effectively. We encourage them to take risks in an environment where they can feel safe to learn from their mistakes and develop mutually supportive relationships with their peers and their teachers. We endeavour to do this through careful questioning, peer and self-assessment, as well as through interactive methods of teaching and learning. Students also have access to all the vocabulary they will need to cope with the NCELP resources online as well as OAK Online.

There is an increasing emphasis on assessment for learning and students are encouraged to develop the confidence to assess their own progress and to set themselves targets to improve. It is believed that this will increase students’ motivation and overall capacity to learn and make good progress. Students are taught French or Spanish and from the beginning of Year 7 they are able to recognise the criteria for quality work and acquire the necessary skills to assess and improve their own work in each of the four skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing.


Students studying French or Spanish at GCSE follow the AQA exam board. This examines students’ knowledge after two years of study.

The exam consists of a final reading and listening exam at foundation or higher level. A variety of topics in speaking and writing are also assessed in a final exam. Students are required to speak for between 7 and 10 minutes on a variety of topics; the speaking assessment is recorded in school, but externally marked. They are also expected to write from memory, as well as translate texts of 30-50 words from the target language into English and vice versa. These are the topics covered, which are started in KS3 and many of them have extensive links with the SMSC provision of the Academy: 

  • Lifestyle
  • Home and Environment
  • Health
  • Home and Local Area
  • Relationships and Choices
  • Environment
  • Leisure
  • Work and Education
  • Free Time and the Media
  • School/College and Future Plans
  • Holidays
  • Current and Future Jobs

Some students have been able to take more than one language to GCSE level and have been very successful. In addition to French and Spanish, staff can also supervise courses in German, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish and Italian.


The study of a GCSE in a Modern Language is a pre-requisite for study at A Level and it also forms part of the highly valued EBacc qualification, which more and more universities are taking into account when considering UCAS applications. This qualification is seen as a positive qualification for access to many universities. It is also regarded highly in vocational courses in an international job market and considered useful for some apprenticeships, which are provided by international companies and even companies abroad keen to train up higher level apprentices in countries such as Germany.

'Learning languages is a challenge but fun and we provide a positive environment in which to learn about other cultures and embrace their languages.' Mr Styles


The MFL Department runs a club for students interested in improving their language skills and learning new languages. Students are also encouraged to enter regional and national language competitions. There is a club where pupils can practise their skills on Duolingo, and we have annual house role-play competitions.

It is considered important that the students are given access whenever possible to a wide range of resources, including the use of ICT, authentic materials and external Foreign Language speakers and visitors. Enrichment activities are offered, whenever possible, including extra-curricular trips abroad (to Barcelona and St-Omer), structured primary events, as well as other events such as, the European Day of Languages in September and numerous Gifted and Talented projects. Success in languages is celebrated in school assemblies, as well as celebration events in language lessons. Students are encouraged to use Internet resources to improve confidence and to watch sub-titled films to increase their cultural awareness of Europe and the Americas.