Residential Spanish courses for Higher and Advanced Higher students at a university in Majorca have proved the trigger for better results. In 2004, 30 North Lanarkshire pupils who attended the course in Palma achieved an A pass at Higher and another 18 a B pass.
Michael O'Neill, North Lanarkshire's education director, last week celebrated a more formal link by welcoming a party of dignatories from Majorca to Dalziel High in Motherwell. They later went on to meet Mr McConnell, the local MSP.
Spanish is replacing French and German as the first language in some secondaries and two of the schools involved with the Majorca partnership now teach Spanish as the main language in S1 and S2.
Teachers have been through extra training via an intensive language development course in Palma, funded by the Scottish Executive's priorities action fund. "We have now extended the partnerships to include six North Lanarkshire secondary schools with six secondary schools in Majorca. This has led to a number of initiatives to improve pupil communication in Spanish and English," Mr O'Neill said.