Staff and pupils at Ballyclare High are celebrating after the school was awarded the 2014 British Academy Language Award for Northern Ireland.
The British Academy is the UK’s expert body that supports and speaks for the humanities and the social sciences.
This year, it awarded 14 prizes of £4,000 each to schools and colleges - or institutions supporting them - for proposals to increase the numbers of students learning languages at higher levels.
The winning project from the local grammar school, entitled ‘Leading Little Linguists’, was selected by a panel of judges from more than one hundred applications from across the UK.
One of the winners in each category will receive an additional prize of £2,000 as overall winners, to be announced at an awards ceremony in November as part of the British Academy and Guardian Languages Festival.
‘Leading Little Linguists’ is a project that is now in its third year. It involves training Year 10 and sixth-form pupils as language leaders to teach French, German and Spanish to younger pupils in feeder primary schools and at bespoke, one-off events throughout the year, such as the school’s open evening and primary liaison days. In addition, the project sees native-speaking language assistants teaching German and Spanish at Ballyclare Primary School and Fairview Primary School. The overarching goal in Ballyclare is to increase uptake of languages, and German in particular, at A Level and beyond.
Mr David Knox, principal of Ballyclare High School, is delighted with the accolade.
“I am delighted to see the efforts of Ian Collen, our Head of German, and the local primary schools being recognised by this award, and I know that the money that goes with it will be put to good use to develop the project even further. The school supports the development of modern languages and prides itself on the work that goes on in this area of the curriculum in partnership with our local primary schools.”
Robin Jackson, Chief Executive and Secretary of the British Academy added: “The aim of these awards is to find imaginative and effective ways of encouraging more learners to take languages to higher levels, and to encourage inclusiveness in the profile of language learners. It is clear from the response that mainstream and supplementary schools around the country share our concerns and we are delighted to have received so many high quality applications. We heartily congratulate the winning projects, whose progress we will follow with great interest. We hope they will become beacons of good practice and inspiration and help to turn the tide on Britain’s language deficit.”