We aim to develop each student's academic and individual abilities to the highest level of excellence of which they are capable so that they achieve beyond their expectations. We ensure all pupils have access to appropriate progression so that they are able to develop skills to the highest possible level, thereby raising achievement throughout the school.

Devonport High School for Girls first achieved Specialist Languages College status in 2005 and was re-designated in early 2009.  The additional funding has allowed the school to provide excellent facilities and opportunities for language learning and to expand the range of languages offered to our students - French, German, Italian, Spanish, Latin and Chinese, with enrichment sessions in Finnish, Arabic and Modern Greek.

Language learning at DHSG offers the challenge of communicating with native speakers on a regular basis and of gaining a wider and richer understanding of global cultures and markets in projects such as:







1.  P2E participants ‘sell' their product to a panel of judges in German via a video-conferencing link

2.  During a visit to UKTI in Bristol the winning P2E team, Grace Edward-Collins, Anna Butler, Laura Hooper and their teacher, Mrs. Denise Broadbent, met Lord Davies, former Minister for Trade.

Taking the lead from the Specialism, other departments are encouraged to work with partners in the community to provide challenging and realistic opportunities for our pupils. The Science department has been very much involved in languages and international links and has just completed a Comenius bilateral project with our partner school in Finland, based on the sustainability of the environment combined with language learning.  The department has also been involved in the application for Capital Matched Funding based on links with the local business community:

 "Men in White" - DHSG pupils have attended these sessions at the Peninsula Medical School since its inception four years ago. "Men In White" aims to give students the opportunity to visit internationally-renowned medical research laboratories where students perform hands-on science including DNA extraction and electrophoresis, culturing pancreatic cells and investigating how fruit flies may be used as models for human diseases. In addition to harnessing enthusiasm for science, students work with postdoctoral and research scientists to discover what a career in scientific research entails.


PLYMOUTH - GHANA LINKplymouth ghana logo

DHSG has recently been partnered with a school in Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana, Archbishop Porter Girls' Secondary School and this link will be strengthened through the extensive city partnership between Plymouth and Sekondi-Takoradi which encompasses education, business, sport and medicine.  Plymouth City Council organises Ghana Week and this year a group of DHSG pupils will be participating in the Blue Mile Walk along Plymouth Hoe to raise funds for Operation Hernia, the main charity of the Plymouth-Ghana link.  They will also provide a World Cup display to be included in the Ghana Exhibition at the Roland Levinsky Building at the University of Plymouth during the Ghana Week.

Girls from Years 7 to 13 recently contributed to the Plymouth and West Devon Talking Newspaper for the Blind by recording excerpts from writing they had completed in their English lessons, ranging from impressions of the Anne Frank Diary to ‘A Guide to Dealing with a Teenager'.  The organisers of the Talking Newspaper were delighted with the results, a mixture of humorous and moving pieces, and hope to have more material from the school in future.

The Specialism funding also enhances the curriculum through a variety of exciting and new language opportunities.

We offer:

  • A choice of 6 languages of which at least one can be studied to GCSE level
  • Choice of either French or Spanish as a first language
  • Study of two languages in Years 8 and 9 and choice to continue the second language to GCSE
  • An extensive programme of language enrichment classes at lunchtime and in twilight
  • A state-of the art environment for learning languages, with video-conferencing facilities, satellite television, interactive whiteboards in every classroom, and a multi-media ICT suite/language laboratory with 30 stations
  • An annual programme of overseas study visits and Comenius-funded projects
  • Experience of working with native speakers on a daily basis from France, Germany, Italy and Spain

The school regularly bids for funding which offers unique opportunities for pupils to work with others on cross-curricular projects which include languages.


Originally a business language project, this was developed to include transition from Key Stage 2 to 3, involving several local schools where take up for languages was low.  We bid successfully for LinkedUp Award funding of £10,000 which has supported an excellent community venture where up to 20 schools over 3 local authorities (Cornwall, Plymouth and Devon) work closely with primary schools.  Year 8 and 9 pupils have designed language resources for which they then developed lesson plans to teach to primary pupils in partner schools.  This collaborative project will culminate in a showcase event in autumn 2010 where all the secondary and primary schools will have the opportunity to display and demonstrate their work.

The FLLA, a natural development from Making Primary Languages Our Business, offers pupils involved in that project to gain experience for the Foreign Language Leader Award, a pilot programme at DHSG from Sep 2010.  It is being offered to year 10 students by invitation and on a voluntary basis.  The award strives to develop generic leadership skills and confidence through the medium of language teaching and learning involving pupils from Key Stages 2 and 3.  Candidates will complete 6 units in weekly extra-curricular sessions, a combination of lunchtime and twilight, structured to improve their own linguistic skills and cultural awareness by creating and organising activities which will motivate younger pupils and improve their linguistic skills too.  The course delivery time is a minimum of 30 guided learning hours and in addition to lesson planning, team teaching and creating resources within a course of planned lessons, candidates will be expected to organise a main language showcase event, such as a language festival.  This experience in planning, communication and presentation will also provide a context within which candidates can apply their language skills.

Over the past few years pupils have been able to combine their skills in Art and Italian during study visits to Italy, but a new link with the Tamar Valley Tourist Association is providing this cross-curricular project with ‘a sense of space' which will allow the girls to add depth and local colour to their international link.  The ultimate aim is to produce a book in English and Italian featuring the girls' photographs and through those, their own impressions of a local area of natural beauty.

In recent years DHSG has been sought to encourage cross-curricular co-operation within the framework of a global village where all departments of the school, the local community of partner secondary and primary schools, and partners and links elsewhere in the world, all come together to share ideas and values.

As a Specialist Languages College, DHSG has assigned some of its outreach funding to providing training in languages teaching methodology for primary teachers, to ensure sustainability in PMFL.  In the last 5 years over 80 teachers from city primary schools have successfully completed the course and their schools have often developed further links with DHSG in projects such as MPLOB, or with the Confucius Classroom, or have hosted visits from our Foreign Language Assistants.

Recently an Advanced Skills teacher from the primary sector who has supported the primary schools involved in MPLOB, reported:

I have seen the benefits of the MPLOB project within many primary schools. The project has not only had a positive impact on linking secondary and primary schools to create effective partnerships, it has begun to raise the primary teachers' confidence in teaching Modern Languages. The teachers are very happy to learn more of a language themselves and they love having resources they can actually use!

By working closely with our partners in the local, national and international communities we also aim to equip our pupils to become the professionals of tomorrow with the linguistic skills that will enable them to make the most of the opportunities provided by an expanding European market and to compete successfully in the European and global market.

Comments below show that our supporting role in the community is having an impact on schools where languages uptake has previously been low:

One school where MFL uptake is low, was recently visit by Ofsted (a subject specific inspection of the MFL department) and the Inspector was very impressed with the MPLOB project as she saw some of the lessons year 9 were performing in front of their peers.  The Inspector also commented favourably on the information booklets put together for pupils and staff.


For the past five years DHSG has set up a competition for Sixth Formers to win a place on a Euroscola visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.  They have to present and discuss a European issue in French and if successful, they join a group of 24 students from several schools in the South West on a European Youth Parliament experience where they debate several aspects of the European Union with their peers from over 20 other countries.  The students have several roles they can play as presidents or reporters of a group, but the experience of mixing with students from a large number of different countries and cultures leaves an indelible impression.

Jon wrote:  Euroscola day helped me to realise that European problems can be solved both diplomatically, democratically and independently of certain binding agreements ........ Europe should now work towards combating negative perceptions of its work, in order to turn itself into a more coherent and credible authority on the world stage.

Fran wrote:  I now have a further understanding of the political setup in the European Parliament and as a result feel like an EU citizen which wasn't the case before.


Comenius LogoThrough exciting European and international projects and intercommunication each student can become a compassionate and responsible member of a rapidly changing global society.

Involvement in Comenius Projects has attracted further funding but more importantly, a greater opportunity for DHSG pupils to become members of a more multi-cultural society with greater understanding of their peers in other countries whilst at the same time, gaining an appreciation of their own culture.  Over two years a group of Key Stage 4 pupils worked with their counterparts at a school in Oulu, Finland on the sustainability of the environment and were pleasantly surprised to find how much their own local area was contributing positively to a sustainable environment, as well as learning from their Finnish partners about green issues in their country.  During that project the school hosted a Comenius Assistant from Finland who taught the group Finnish and also illustrated many of the lunchtime enrichment sessions with information about the Finnish way of life.

The school will shortly become involved in a 2-year multi-lateral Comenius Project, with schools in Denmark, Finland and Spain concentrating on ‘Common Value, Values in Common?' and involving Citizenship, Language, Literature and the Environment.

Our ultimate aim is to establish and promote an international ethos in the school and to develop the skills and understanding needed to play a constructive part in our global future

Over the years, DHSG has hosted a variety of visitors from other countries - groups from France, Germany, Italy and Spain on a regular basis, but also from China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Chile, and America.  Students are very keen to act as tour guides round the school and explain about the many links and activities the school is involved in.

Every year we welcome Foreign Language Assistants from France, Germany, Spain and Italy who work with the pupils during language lessons to improve their spoken language, but also run lunchtime clubs, cookery clubs, and support the links between DHSG and the local community by visiting primary schools and running evening classes.  Recently our Spanish Assistant, from Colombia, ran very popular and successful Salsa sessions after school.

As part of our Enrichment programme we hold International Days for the whole school with contributions from many different cultures - from Indian dancing to African drumming.

A significant contribution from the Specialism has been the updating of displays throughout the school with the provision of new display boards and many with an international theme.  This gives parents, prospective pupils and visitors in general an impression of a colourful, vibrant and hard working school open to new ideas, new cultures and new partnerships.


In 2008 DHSG led a consortium bid to become one of the SSAT Confucius Institute's twelve national Confucius Classrooms, and for the past two years has worked with three other schools representing three local authorities (DHSG & Hele's in Plymouth, Callington CC in Cornwall and Ivybridge CC in Devon) to promote the teaching and learning of the Chinese language and culture.  A large number of partner schools in the South West have benefited from sessions or courses given by two Hanban teachers seconded annually from No. 15 School in Beijing, who have opened children's eyes to the delights of Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Calligraphy, Paper Cutting, the Lion Dance and cooking Chinese Dumplings.  Recently the Hanban teachers introduced Maths through the abacus to their repertoire which was enjoyed by some of our Year 7 and 8 pupils, and also in some of the primaries.  One primary teacher wrote:

Just to let you know that the Hanban teachers are doing a great job - it is really interesting that learning maths in a different language has helped bowl out a couple of problems for our lower attainers who have become much more confident in tens and units and the number system - even after only one lesson!

As well as extending an appreciation of the Chinese language and culture throughout schools in the surrounding area, the subject has become more embedded in the four schools of the consortium, with our resident Chinese teachers working closely with the Hanban teachers at events such as the Chinese New Year and a South West Chinese Conference for teachers.  We also hope to organise a Chinese Speaking Competition and a Chinese Festival for primary pupils run by older students.


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