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More than happy not to be a member of the language college club

I was somewhat surprised to read that our school is to be one of the first language colleges (TES, May 19).

It is true that Dartford Grammar School for Girls has a particular strength in languages. We offer six European languages, two classical languages and Arabic with a mix of A-levelGCSE and business courses. In 1995 our Year 11 students had a 100 per cent success rate grades A-C in languages with 60 per cent grade As, and more than half our A-level leavers had cert-ification in at least three languages.

Our European work experience programme has involved five countries and A-level business studies modules have been taught in two languages for seven years. However, as I explained to your correspondent, we have not applied to become a language college, although we might consider it at a later date. It is Dartford Grammar School for Boys which has made such an application.

Although a large injection of cash would certainly enable access to a greater variety of desirable technological learning support, it is possible to achieve the majority of the desired outcomes of the languages scheme without it and while still delivering a balanced curriculum. Our only major item of expenditure was the cost of a second-hand languages laboratory. We have found the major requirements to be a committed team of teachers able to teach more than one language and willing to learn new ones, and students motivated to learn.

I hope schools which may not wish to become specialist schools or see no way of raising the necessary sponsorship may nevertheless feel encouraged by our experience, and that of others who have pursued this route through conviction, to adopt the objectives behind the scheme, which do identify such important national needs.

JILLIAN HODMAN

Headteacher Dartford Grammar School for Girls Shepherds Lane Dartford, Kent

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