Guest post by Mrs Hilary Scholes, Department Leader for MFL, Challney High School for Girls

My name is Hilary Scholes and I am Department Leader for MFL at Challney High School for Girls in Luton.  I have taught French and Spanish for 12 years and have been a department leader for 2 and a half years.

Luton Languages Festival

On the 18 July  this year, the Luton MFL Network and Luton Sixth Form College held the inaugural Luton Languages Festival, an event conceived with the aim of celebrating the learning of languages and encouraging more year 7 pupils to consider pursuing languages to GCSE level and beyond.

The Luton MFL Network is an association of Department Leaders from all of the Luton secondary schools and the Luton Sixth Form College.   The initial idea was as a supportive network to help each other with the introduction of the new GCSEs.  One meeting is held each term, with representatives being invited from all of the Luton secondary schools and the Luton Sixth Form College, each meeting being hosted at a different school.

One of the ideas that had always been talked about as a network, was to have some sort of language festival, where we could all come together to celebrate language learning.  We decided to keep it quite simple – combining taster sessions in languages taught at the Sixth Form College, language puzzles from the UK Linguistics Olympiad and our own version of the Routes into Languages, Foreign Language Spelling Bee.  Each school was able to bring up to 10 pupils.

Victoria Abbot, MFL Network Lead, worked together with Samantha Fabbro, languages course manager at the college to put together a plan for the day:

9:15 – 9:45                Registration

9:45 – 10:00              Formal welcome

10:00 – 12:00            Taster sessions as below. Pupils taking part in the spelling bee, will go to the  appropriate heat during these sessions.

11:50 – 12:00            Feedback sheets to be completed in each final session.

12:00 – 12:30            Packed lunches.

12:40 -1:40                Spelling bee finals, prize giving and close.

Pupils were assigned a letter on arrival and then followed a specific timetable.  Example here:

Group A Group B Group C Spelling bee heats






Spanish French
10:45-11:15 Latin








11:20-11:50 UKLO








The event was seen as a great success by all involved, and some of the comments from the feedback sheets from the pupils were testament to this:

“Latin was fun and made sense to me.”

“(The Spelling Bee) makes you feel confident.”

“My favourite thing was all of it!”

Advice for running a similar event.

  • Keep it simple
  • Plan well in advance
  • Get a firm commitment from everyone involved – there was a lot of organising and a lot of preparation which could not have been done without people working together
  • Use the strengths of the members of staff you have (e.g. two members of staff were used to take pupils to the regional heats of the spelling bee, so one of them lead on the spelling bee competition)
  • Show the pupils as many aspects of language as you can. (The initial welcome was given by MFL A Level students in the languages they are learning, the college principal, Chris Nicholls gave some of his address in Italian)
  • Publicise the event. We used our school twitter accounts, the Luton VI Form College website and also had the story reported in the local paper.

If you would like any more information on the festival please email Hilary.

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