Centre for excellence

What makes languages at HGS special?

We were the first Specialist Language College in North Yorkshire and in July 2011 the Modern Foreign Languages Faculty was judged to be outstanding in every area by OFSTED.

In October 2013 the Harrogate Grammar School MFL Faculty was recently the focus of two articles in the Independent as an example of outstanding languages provision.


An understanding of the importance of language learning and of the benefits it brings is reflected in the fact that almost all students study two languages until the end of Year 9 with about 40 continuing with two languages at GCSE each year.

In 2012/13 there were 234 MFL GCSE entries and students achieved our best ever results across our 4 languages with a significantly positive overall Value Added score according to RAISE Online 2013.

• 90% A*-C
• 44% A*-A

All students study a combination of French plus Spanish, German or Italian in year 7 and these languages are all taught in the 6th form. About 60 students each year study a language to AS level.

We have also recently further developed our Chinese provision and are running taster sessions and a ‘full course’ through a combination of lessons in Enrichment, at lunchtimes and after school. These lessons are led by native Chinese speakers and bilingual HGS students and lesson planning and delivery are overseen by qualified MFL teachers.

Rosetta Stone

In addition to the core language provision all KS3 students have access to the online language learning package Rosetta Stone which provides access to 25 languages. Many staff and parents also use Rosetta Stone so that students are surrounded by adults many of whom are themselves language learners. Rosetta Stone is also widely used by students in Learning Support who are otherwise unable to access the MFL curriculum.

Alongside the Metropolitan Police and Barcelona University, HGS was awarded a prize in 2011 for its implementation of Rosetta Stone which operates worldwide. The long term aim is to create a culture of language learning at the school where the question is no longer ‘Why Study Languages?’ but rather ‘Which languages shall I study?’.

Trips and Exchanges

The MFL Faculty has an unusually rich Trips and Exchange programme. The faculty has established exchanges with two schools in France (Armentières and Laventie), Germany (Tübingen), Italy (Piacenza), Spain (Toledo) and recently with China (Hangzhou) as well as links with schools in Holland and Switzerland.
Approximately 250 students across the school are involved in a range of MFL trips and exchanges each year in addition to those run by other subjects across the school which may well take students abroad.

2013-14 Trips

• Y8/9 German Christmas Markets
• Y10-13 – French, German, Spanish Exchanges
• Y11-12 – Chinese Exchange Home visit
• Y10 – Hosting Swiss and Dutch visitors
• Y7 – French Trip

Y8 Super Learning Day

The annual Y8 Super Learning Day aims to introduce students to a variety of new linguistic and cultural experiences. This year entitled ‘East meets West’ included sessions on sushi making, Manga Cartoon design, oriental kite making, Calligraphy, Origami, European food tasting and sessions with our language assistants.

Language Assistants

We are extremely fortunate to have 5 language assistants each year (French, Italian, Spanish, German and Chinese) who work across the school in a variety of contexts, and are fully integrated into the school community. In addition to timetabled lessons with 6th form linguists the assistants also work in classes at KS3 and 4 to support students on the C/D borderline, give presentations on their life back home and to prepare authentic resources for use in future years. This year our assistants will also be working with local Primary Schools.

6th form Student Leader Programme

Students in KS3 and 4 are able to receive additional support through the Y12 Student Leader Programme on which 6th form linguists work to support classes and students in lower school.


The MFL Faculty is very committed to developing the opportunities presented by the 1:1 iPad programme for developing language teaching and learning. We are already piloting a ‘Facetime’ exchange with our Italian partner school which has itself just introduced the iPad. The faculty is also very well equipped in other areas with a multi-media PC suite and all classrooms benefit from interactive whiteboards with internet access and DVD facilities. We also subscribe to a wide range of language websites.

Oxbridge Success

This year two students have received offers from Oxbridge for languages (French and German, Spanish and Portuguese) and two other students with offers from Oxbridge are taking a language at A2 (German an Italian).