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International Baccalaureate - Language (Senior)
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Staff Handbook: Policies

Document owner: BZS

Last reviewed: July 2021

Access: Staff

International Baccalaureate - Language

(Senior School)

Language and the ability to communicate is at the heart of all we do.


...The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect...


Bristol Grammar School AIMS

For every individual to:


BGS recognise the importance of developing our students’ language skills at all ages and each area of the school has specialist teaching to enable our learners to fully access their relevant curriculum. We also fully appreciate that language transcends the curriculum and we work tirelessly to equip our staff and students with the necessary language skills to allow them to fulfil their potential. This may include the ability to communicate with others in team settings, to express themselves to the full in debates or at public speaking events, to express themselves through song or the written word by story-telling or verse and to interact electronically in a suitable way. We work to ensure that all students have access to a range of modern languages and classical languages and although our language of instruction is English we take into account students who are multilingual and those who regularly converse in other languages at home or with family. Language and the ability to communicate allows us to interact with the local community and the wider world and is our gateway to developing the international mindedness of our staff and students.


At BGS all staff will be considered language teachers as we will all strive to develop in our students across all age ranges the ability to communicate and cooperate in all that they do. Effective communicators are effective learners.


The Learner Profile

We express ourselves confi­dently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.

We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.


Our language policy strives to address many aspects of the IB diploma and in particular the above points. All students will develop the skills needed to communicate effectively in their mother tongue (in our case English) and in at least one other language. This is a key skill needed to engage with all other aspects of their IB education. Through their studies in literature (mother tongue) and language acquisition they will also gain a greater appreciation of the values and traditions of other cultures and of their own place in their culture.







Our Languages curriculum

English is the language of instruction at every level of BGS from phonics upwards in reception to the sixth form. Each member of teaching staff has guidance in their department handbook on how to develop student’s language skills in terms of literacy and spelling and most departments have guidance on developing technical expertise in terms of language in their chosen areas.


All students from year 7 upwards study English, the students study “English” but will sit separate literature and Language examinations at the end of year 11. Students will then be able to follow the SL/HL English literature option for the IB diploma or the English Pre U course in the sixth form.


From year 8 onwards students may select two languages from French, Spanish, Russian and German, (Latin is compulsory in year 8, in year 9 they select one of Latin, Greek, Cl Civ also) . From these options they must select one of French and Spanish and one other. Many will select two languages to complete in year 11 but some will select one. The student’s decisions will be assisted by the heads of subject from the language departments.


In the sixth form students may study French, Spanish, German, Russian, Latin or Greek at A Level. On the IB diploma they would be able to select one of these languages at SL/HL or a modern language including Italian at ab initio SL   (Greek will not currently be offered on the IB diploma). During the sixth form courses students will be encouraged to spend a period of time in a country which speaks the language they are studying.


To aid and assist in the teaching of all languages the school employs trained peripatetic language staff to work closely with students to develop their language skills.


Subject choice for the IB diploma


Two further aspects of the learner profile are addressed in the process of choosing suitable subject choices for the diploma pathway.


We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.


We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.


Students must reflect on their prior learning and studies but also be willing to make a leap of faith moving forwards. For Studies in literature they have a choice to make between HL and SL. They will all be in the position to follow either course but may wish to take the decision in the wider context of their best prospects given the split of 3 HL and 3 SL subjects. Following the Literature course they will gain a further understanding of works from many backgrounds and cultures focusing and develop their ability to express themselves and their opinions on the works in their mother tongue (English). The skills of expression and analysis developed through their subject group 1 choice will also benefit their other subject areas.


Selecting subjects from the language acquisition group

Ensuring students follow an appropriate group 2 subject will involve the students, the HOS for each language course and the careers department. Once again students will have to reflect on previous studies to inform their decision of a HL or SL course and this will also relate to their potential career pathway. . All group 2 subjects on offer in the diploma course by the school will be available at SL or HL. In some cohorts it may be that group sizes are too small to sustain A level and IB groups and so one or the other will run.

Students will be guided to select HL or SL courses in subjects they have completed at GCSE/IGCSE level further down the school. We would not advise a student to attempt a HL or SL course in a subject they have not studied before. In this case they would be advised to follow the ab initio course. This course will only be available to students with no prior formal qualifications in the subject in line with IB requirements.


By following the advice in this policy students will be able to:


Provision for EAL students

We appreciate that many schools will have dual language status or possibly even greater. As a school we do not enjoy this status, all students in the school work and communicate in English as their mother tongue. Should a student wish to follow a dual language option we would provide all support possible in order to accommodate this.

We currently have no student on role with an EAL statement that is stopping them from accessing our full curriculum in English. Whilst we do not see this changing in the near future as we do not routinely accept students who are not fluent in English we appreciate that we may consider this in future. To this end we would work to try and enable any student wishing to apply to join the school to do so. Where possible we would strive to offer our curriculum in their mother tongue.

Upon entry to the school at any level the students undergo some form of assessment. Younger students may simply be observed working and playing together whilst older students must sit an entrance test. The tests take place at a variety of levels for entry to different stages of the school.


At each stage the tests will be delivered and completed in English. As a day school we do not routinely accept international students although some do attend and board with local families. These students are also required to complete assessments in English.

If we did come to an arrangement with an international student to attend the school they would either have to complete the diploma in English with their group 1 Literature course as English or we would have to seek external support in their mother tongue at their own cost. They would also have to complete a Language acquisition course in one of our given subjects (not English) and again language support in the other aspects of the diploma would have to be provided at their expense.

Some students on roll do converse in another language at home or with family but we would still consider English as their mother tongue for all IB teaching and academic purposes.

Our head librarian will offer additional language support to students via the vast number of language resources available through the library. This includes, but is not limited to, books, websites, magazines and subscriptions and audio material.


Last material change

Governors’ Approval

June 2019 L&A