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Horbury Academy

Horbury Academy

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Department Overview

We want every student to leave Horbury Academy with at least one foreign language qualification which is now a requirement for many top universities and employers. “Learning to speak a foreign language, understanding and appreciating other cultures, working towards shared goals with counterparts from very different backgrounds – these are now key components of a well-rounded education” (Global Gateway)

In addition to the great satisfaction and sense of achievement that can be drawn from being understood and speaking, even if only a few words, in a new language, language learning also helps to embed key literacy, communicative, auditory and aural skills. It allows students to develop a good eye for detail, to spot patterns and to adapt and manipulate language creatively.  

Curriculum Leader: Mrs K Roberts

Key Stage 3

Students follow a two year Key Stage 3 course in either French or Spanish and the curriculum is designed to develop the 4 skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. We cover topics that will enable students to cope with most common situations when visiting the country in which their language is spoken. The emphasis is on communicating and understanding basic information. In lessons students are encouraged to practice the target language as much as possible in a supportive way. Whereas we do give students the solid grammatical foundations to allow them to grow their linguistic confidence, we also believe in using games, role-plays, group and pair work to bring the language alive in the classroom. Finally we explore strategies to help students maximise their use of language such as using a bilingual dictionary effectively, coping with unfamiliar situations and expressions, reading and listening for gist.

Key topics include – giving personal information, talking about school, talking about leisure activities and holidays, food and drink, shopping, town, using new technologies giving opinions and reasons, expressing past, present and future activities in different contexts and we also include some cultural elements such as poetry and songs.


Students are expected to spend 30 minutes every 2 weeks in Y7 and Y8 on tasks that reinforce or extend work covered in class. This will include mini and extended writing tasks, reading comprehension tasks and vocabulary learning. Independent learning of key vocabulary and language structures is key to success and this should be done on a regular basis.

 Key Stage 4

Students follow a three year GCSE course and we follow the AQA specification. The course builds on the linguistic foundations acquired at Key Stage 3 and allows students to grow in confidence in their use of language. We continue to give equal importance to the 4 skills areas although students are encouraged to become more independent in their learning. They are also expected to be able to write and structure longer descriptions and participate in more in depth dialogues or give short presentations in the target language. 

The GCSE course is comprised of 3 key themes:

  • Theme 1: Identity and culture.
  • Theme 2: Local, national, international and global areas of interest.
  • Theme 3: Current and future study and employment.

It is assessed by examinations in all 4 skills areas, reading, writing, listening and speaking, each contributing 25% of the final exam grade. Students are entered at either foundation or higher tier in all 4 skill areas.

The listening, reading and writing examinations take place in at the end of year 11. The speaking test will be conducted by the class teacher in April/May of Year 11.

There is no longer any controlled assessment but students will have formal assessments on specific topic areas every half term.

We also support native or near-native speakers of languages with after school study groups or with appropriate guidance for those wishing to sit a language GCSE qualification not currently offered by the department.

GCSE French Qualification Accreditation Code: 601/8157/6.

GCSE Spanish Qualification Accreditation Code: 601/8160/6.


Students will be expected to spend 60 to 90 minutes a week on tasks to consolidate their learning. Key to success at GCSE is having a good range of vocabulary and students are encouraged to review the key vocabulary and structures covered in class as often as possible – ideally this should be done in small 10 minute chunks every other day. We also regularly support students with after school sessions which are especially of benefit when they are preparing for their speaking test.

To further consolidate, stretch or extend the learning in the classroom, students are encouraged to visit the following websites which offer a wealth of support that can be particularly useful for active examination practise and revision:

Linguascope: great for basic vocabulary and more challenging activities for intermediate learners preparing for GCSE.

Español- extra: lots of interactive games to provide practice for vocabulary and grammar at all levels. Try out Grade or no Grade and get that A*.

BBC Bitesize for KS4: practice all four skill areas for the exam and improve those all important exam skills.

Languages online: worth a visit if you need to practice a particular topic or grammar point. You can assess your progress.

Other useful websites: Listen to Spanish pop music live on the radio. French music and videos to watch. index.htm


How the MFL department actively promotes British values

The MFL department at Horbury actively promote the key values of mutual respect, diversity and plurality. By gaining an appreciation of the countries where the language the students are studying is spoken, they are encouraged to reflect on other cultures and ways of life and embrace socio-cultural and economic differences and contexts. This ensures that they remain open to the world around them and have a better grasp of the links and connections between countries and societies. This in turn emphasises the need for tolerance and justice, and through their studies, our students come to value the rule of law and democratic systems that European countries and countries further afield enjoy despite the varied customs, festivals and national characteristics that makes every society so unique.