THERE’S a real international sense of ‘joie de vivre’ at Almondbury High School and Language College.
Following its successful Ofsted report earlier this year which praised its outstanding community links, it has notched up several further successes building on its specialist language status.
A staggering array of languages – including Mandarin and Japanese – are taught at the school and it has just taken on three new language assistants from Colombia, France and Germany.
A teacher from the school is helping a young non-English speaking football player who is on trial with Huddersfield Town and one of the school’s former pupils is now on TV soap Hollyoaks.
The school – under the leadership of Janet Tolley – has received the British Council International School Award for a second time.
The school first received the award in 2006 and over the last three years has continued to develop its work as an International School and Language College throughout the community as well as within the school itself.
The award ensures that the school will continue to be an international school until 2012.
The school’s associate assistant headteacher, Sandra Quarmby, said to bid for the award, International School co-ordinator and German specialist Bev Bitting collated evidence of the impact of languages and international links across the school.
Community and Language College director Richard Leech put together documents demonstrating how the school plans to further enrich the curriculum and support community cohesion with its international links over the next three years.
French specialist Sandrine Beddou collected the award on behalf of the school from BBC news broadcaster George Alagiah at a ceremony in London last month.
Pupils can learn French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, Urdu and Japanese and is further extending its community links by supporting Huddersfield Town Football Club.
Richard Leech, a keen fan since the 1960s, has been helping with some interpreting and translating for the club – including for new French trialist Anthony Moura-Komenan.
The 23-year-old former AC Ajaccio midfielder, who played for France under 21s and for France in the Olympic Games, spoke very little English and the club needed help to sort out administration forms.
This week the school is also hosting a conference for the Centre of Information for Language Teaching.
Mr Leech and teacher Chris Donlon are part of the Kirklees consortium bidding for the right to teach a new Government Diploma in Modern Foreign Languages in 2011.
It has also welcomed three new foreign language assistants to further develop its outstanding language provision for students.
Carolina Nunez Gutierrez from Colombia, Jeremy Perrot from Paris, France and Anne Schelzig from Heidelberg, Germany will all help to extend current language opportunities available to students.
The school’s good reputation is also spreading onto the TV screen with former student Lena Kaur now appearing on Channel Four soap Hollyoaks.
Lena, who left the school in 2001, plays Leila Roy on the soap and has revealed that she has been quite impressed by her storylines so far and their lack of racial stereotypes.
‘The storylines for me and Stephen Uppal, who plays Ravi Roy, aren’t being dictated by the colour of our skin,’’ she said. “We’re both British Asians in real life as well as in the show. We are both totally westernised. We’ve been brought up in Britain, so the storylines will reflect people like Stephen and me.”
Lena took part in workshops with year 11 students at the school alongside theatre company the Wright Stuff.