The German department is a close-knit, highly innovative and forward thinking department, which thrives on the energy of the teaching staff and enthusiastic pupils.
Just over 40 students opt for German in the Shell year as an introductory course and over half regularly continue to GCSE. The small, intimate classes allow for regular and productive contact time. The average class size in the Sixth Form is five pupils who are taught in a tutorial-style environment. Fifth Formers all receive an extra hours speaking tuition in small groups and Sixth Formers have a dedicated speaking period per week.
We strongly believe that engaging the boys with German music, culture and literature is key to them speaking as authentically as possible and we encourage the use of German film, music and social media throughout the A-level and GCSE courses. This year saw the first German Remove declamation competition, where 12 students in Year 10 memorised and declaimed an extract of Franz Kafka’s work.
Boys enjoy strong results including four A* at A-level and 96% A*/A/B at GCSE in 2014.
The German department offers boys a great deal of support in their preparation for Oxbridge applications and recent successful applicants include:
- Alec Murray-Brown, Pembroke College Cambridge, German and Latin
- Alexander Johnstone, New College Oxford, German and History
- Hugo Hesselgren, Selwyn College Cambridge, German and French
Not only does the department provide the necessary tools to excel in exams, we also put emphasis on preparing boys for the world of work. The Radley Business Challenge, which is an annual event run by the German department, challenges students to think outside their usual environment and engage with the idea of cultural literacy in the form of an advertising campaign. In 2013 and 2014 we had some inspirational speakers from the world of business come to run a Sunday workshop, culminating in an advertising pitch the following Friday evening. Teams from Radley, Harrow, Tonbridge, Oundle, MCS, Oxford High School and John Mason School have all taken part in the competition. Previous partners of the RBC have included Stabilo, the German Tourist Board in London and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
Radley plays an important role in the Oxford German Network hosting events such as the annual 'speed-dating' and German pub quiz evening in the JCR, which has become more popular than ever. We also regularly enter OGN competitions at junior and senior level. In 2013 the 6th formers were delighted to win a poetry prize presented by John Le Carré at the Sheldonian in Oxford.
The German Society offers the opportunity of regular trips to the theatre, including 'Der Aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui', and 'Leben des Galilei' by Brecht and most recently, 'Oppenheimer' at the RSC.
Other trips led by the German Department include visits to the German departments at both Oxford and Cambridge University, as well as the German Business Fair at the German Embassy, London and the 'Germany: Memories of a Nation' exhibition at the British Museum.
We think it is important to engage the boys with a variety of lecture styles and speakers. We have recently enjoyed talks from Professor Katrin Kohl, Jesus College Oxford, on the literature of the GDR and Jeremy Cresswell CVO, British Embassy Berlin, to talk about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Our most recent seminar was at St.Anne’s College Oxford, where a group of 5th formers took part in a fascinating discussion about the Jewish community in Britain.
Radley offers 'Academic Priority Time' (two 45 minute sessions each Wednesday) to further the boys’ interest in a subject outside the curriculum. The activities put on by the German department have ranged from discussions groups on 20th Century history, to cooking options, and even the appreciation of the Bundesliga.
There are regular trips organised to Germany, including Shell Christmas Market trips to Berlin and Cologne, involving a visit to all the best Christmas markets, notable historical and cultural sites and a professional Ice Hockey match.
This year, the Fifth and Sixth Formers also enjoyed the opportunity to go to school at the John Lennon Gymnasium in the centre of Berlin. This link with a German secondary school is invaluable in enthusing the boys, and many have decided to organise trips of their own accord to Germany in the holidays.