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Bonjour Cathy et Nicol

Pupils from Walker Road primary in Aberdeen came to the capital on Monday to speak - in French. Education ministers Cathy Jamieson and Nicol Stephen were at their Scottish Executive base to sanction the city's pilot partial immersion strategy, which the school maintains is paying off handsomely.

As The TES Scotland revealed last November, the use of two native French speakers has helped pupils grasp the language far more quickly and in greater depth. Up to 15 per cent of the time in primary 1 is in French, rising to 25 per cent in P3. Accents and intonation are said to be far better than normal after the first three years of the experiment.

Following the normal route, younger pupils have around 100 hours of language teaching by P6. This rises to 1,500 hours at Walker Road.

The model may be replicated in other primaries but the shortage of native speakers remains a difficulty.

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