Summerhill was designated as a Specialist Language College in 2003. Since then we have held true to our original vision of helping to equip students with the language skills to help them become active citizens in the 21st century. We have achieved this through our focus on language teaching (including in a number of primary schools) together with an extensive cultural programme of foreign trips and visits.
In Year 7, all students study French for four lessons per week. This extended time on the curriculum, with almost daily immersion in the language, is proving to be very effective in developing the confidence and language skills of our students.
In Year 8, students continue with French for three lessons per week.
In Year 9, we offer students a choice: those that wish to try a second language can opt to take Spanish for three lessons per week. Alternatively, students can stay with French if they prefer. Those who opt for Spanish have the option of attending twilight French lessons after school in order to keep their French skills up to date.
In Year 10 as part of their GCSE options, all students are strongly encouraged to take a foreign language, although at the time of writing (summer 2015) it is not compulsory. For most students, their foreign language will be French up to GCSE level. However, students who take Spanish in Year 9 have the added option of taking GCSE Spanish, GCSE French or both.
Summerhill GCSE results in foreign languages are significantly above national averages.
We run regular foreign trips for students to immerse themselves in a different culture. Recent trips include the annual ski trip to France, an amazing trip to see the sights of China, a cultural visit to the battlefields of Northern France and a fantastic few days in Iceland observing waterfalls, glaciers, erupting geysers and the Northern Lights. Forthcoming trips in 2016 to New York and Iceland have already been booked.
We run a host of after school activities, including twilight GCSE classes and “French Club”, where students learn about the language and culture (including food!) of France.
We have developed email and postal links between Summerhill students and children in schools in Nigeria, Zambia, Japan and Sri Lanka.
The School has proved particularly successful in the English Baccalaureate. Over half the students take the required combinations (including a foreign language) and the percentage gaining this qualification level is twice the national average.Offsted 2012