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Why Learn Languages Day at St Mary's Calne

On 3rd February 2017, St Mary's Calne hosted a 'Why Learn Languages' event held in conjunction with Cambridge University.  Forty five UV and LVI linguists from St Mary's Calne attended, along with pupils from six visiting Wiltshire schools, including Abbeyfield, The John Bentley School, Sheldon and St John's. 

Four visiting lecturers from the Modern and Medieval Languages Faculty, along with Mrs Alison Auvray (mother of a LV pupil) came to speak to our budding linguists about why learning Languages is becoming ever more important in our post-Brexit world, and ran taster sessions in some of the Languages that would be available at university.



To introduce studying languages at university to a wide range of students – specifically those languages which they have not studied at school.  Cambridge offer an open day for languages – we wanted the lecturers to come here, so that the local schools in Wiltshire could all benefit from this. Forty seven girls from St Mary’s attended and 33 pupils from six other schools (four state and two independent schools). (We invited seven schools and of those seven, six came to the event). The success was measured by the feedback from those who attended, with many schools emailing to say how beneficial the event had been. The beneficiaries are the students who attended. Also, students who could not attend still heard about the day, as their peers presented to them in class.  The students’ families also increased their awareness of the opportunities available post-school through their children.


Mrs Zoe Ross, Head of MFL at St Mary's Calne, contacted Cambridge University (MML Dept) directly, to see if they would provide this outreach service.  She was then put in contact with Mr Felipe Schurey, Lecturer of Portugese, and the day was arranged together. This was the first time the event had run and was six months in the planning.


Teaching Staff for the language sessions were required: three from Cambridge and one parent of a St Mary’s girl, sourced by Mrs Ross.  The school facilities used were: meeting rooms, seminar room, the library and a main presentation room (the Chapel). None of the people who delivered sessions were teaching staff from St Mary’s, but the day was put together by Mrs Ross, Head of MFL and a teacher. The event lasted three hours. The MFL Department at St Mary's Calne paid for the Cambridge Lecturers’ travel and expenses, in total £280 for the day.  The pupils and teachers from local schools made their own way to the school.


The assessment will be if any of the pupils decide to include a language as part of their university studies.  As the pupils were in Year 11 and Year 12, we will not know this for at least one year.

Pupil Involvement

Forty seven girls from St Mary’s Calne – twenty four were 16/17 year olds; twenty three were 15/16 year olds.  From the state schools (Abbeyfield, Sheldon, St John’s, John Bentley) we had a total of sixteen girls and boys, aged 15-17.


As yet unknown.  This was an inaugural event and we may look at repeating it in a year’s time with a different university.