Radley’s French department is lucky to have committed, highly qualified and dynamic teachers with a wide range of experiences from all sectors of education. French is compulsory to IGCSE level and confidence amongst boys in the teaching staff means that it remains an unusually popular A Level choice for an all boys' school, with around 40 boys studying French in the sixth form.
Photo: Musée Rodin , August 2016
Being able to set the boys from the Shell year means that the brightest and best can be stretched and we have a long history of accelerated success at GCSE, IGCSE, A/S and A2.
The IGCSE course enables boys in all sets to develop an ability to use the language effectively for purposes of practical communication. The course is based on the linked language skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing. The syllabus also aims to offer insights into the culture and civilisation of countries where French is spoken, thus encouraging positive attitudes towards language learning and towards speakers of foreign languages.
In the Sixth Form, we offer the Edexcel A level course; the content of this course is rooted in French and francophone culture, and it provides the opportunities for students to develop and refine their advanced grammatical skills. The independent research project complements the EPQ which all sixth formers undertake, and offers the opportunity to explore an area of particular interest. We are fortunate to have two native-speaker French Language Assistants in the department, who support the boys in all years.
Photo: French exchange February 2016
Many boys continue studying French at university, either with another language or as part of a combined course. The French department offers boys a great deal of tailored support in their preparation for Oxbridge applications; over the past three years, seven boys have gone on to study French at Oxford or Cambridge, two of whom have been awarded scholarships.
The French Society meets twice a term, and offers activities and lectures for all ages and abilities. Recent events have included a translation workshop, various talks on studying French at university from former pupils and university directors of admissions, an introduction to French cuisine, and a wine-tasting event.
Photo: Translation workshop with Dr Jenny Higgins, April 2016
Radley offers the freedom to take boys to see dramatic productions and film releases which helps to nurture their cultural appreciation. Recently we have been to see The National Theatre Live performance of Laclos’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses, an all-female performance of Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac at the Southwark playhouse, and Ionesco’s La Cantatrice Chauve at the Théâtre de la Huchette in Paris. Boys have been taking part in and enjoying great success in the Joûtes Oratoires competition, sponsored by the Institut Français.
The collegiate atmosphere in the department means that new initiatives are embraced by colleagues. We offer “Cooking in French”, “French Declamations” and recently four dons joined the boys in an adaptation of Raymond Queneau’s Exercice de Style which we performed to the boys and our French guests from Paris.
The annual year 12 (6.1) exchange with the Lycée Ste. Geneviève has been running for nearly 20 years and is of enormous benefit to the boys, both linguistically and socially. Feedback from parents is consistently positive. This year we also ran a cultural and educational extension trip to Paris, spending the mornings in academic pursuits, and the afternoons visiting museums, galleries, and a stand-up comedy club.