• About
  • Curriculum
  • Enrichment
  • Staff
  • After Westminster
  • About

    French is, as a core subject in the Lower School, not just a vehicle to communicate information on a basic level. It is a platform where one engages with critical thinking, history, wellbeing, politics, using ever-developing listening, reading, speaking and writing skills. The cross-curricular approach is part and parcel of its DNA and the way it is taught at Westminster. French is also a key component of any Upper School combination of subjects.

    Taught and spoken worldwide, French is truly international and a key language of global diplomacy; it provides an insight into many different cultures and is a good foundation for learning and improving an individual’s command of other languages too. About 50% of English words derive from French, which has fed into English since William the Conqueror.

    Sixth Form Entry
    Subject requirements for the course
    Pupils generally are required to hold an (I)GCSE grade 8 or 9 to study the A Level at Westminster, but it is absolutely not a requisite to have sat an AS (or the DELF) beforehand. We will consider applicants predicted on grade 7 or above and will review the candidate’s individual merits and potential during the application process.

    Entrance Examination

    The entrance examination lasts 45 minutes and consists of three parts. Part one is a reading comprehension task; part two is a grammar-based gap-fill task; and part three is a writing task. The latter requires a pupil to write a 150-word composition in French from a choice of three titles, all of which fall within topic areas defined by the (I)GCSE boards. Speaking skills are tested at interview. There is no expectation that pupils should have covered aspects of the language that are not normally part of the (I)GCSE course.

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    Overseas Candidates
    There is no (I)GCSE requirement for those who attend schools overseas that do not prepare pupils for (I)GCSE examinations. Candidates will be considered for a place based on their performance in the School’s entrance examinations and a transcript of results from their current school.


    Department Contact Dr John Witney
  • Curriculum
    Lower School

    All pupils study French in the Lower School to IGCSE level, including in the Fifth Form (Year 9). The course is taught in proficiency groups and teaching builds on pupils’ previous learning. We run a bespoke curriculum with considerable cultural and interdisciplinary content, in order to ensure that pupils have the opportunity to use their French independently and creatively. Pupils work with one of our two Language Assistants from the Lower Shell onwards. 

    The CIE IGCSE French specification is rigorous in its assessment and allows pupils to develop all four language skills  (speaking, reading, listening and writing). Pupils sit this exam in the Upper Shell (Year 11), and higher proficiency sets also do additional qualifications such as the DELF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française), which is a standalone international qualification.

    Syllabus & Code
    CAIE IGCSE 7156 French
    Upper School

    The Edexcel A Level course in French is both an exciting and successful way of building up critical faculties, whilst preparing for Higher Education in developing initiative and independent study. A wide range of contemporary topics is offered and serves as a platform for a vibrant discussion of current affairs. The course encourages pupils to combine cultural background and experience. It builds upon the knowledge gained at (I)GCSE and promotes both the quality and accuracy of the four language skills (speaking, reading, listening and writing). One of the key features of the course is the inclusion of cultural topics. They include, for instance, Perspectives on World War II, Artistic Trends in the Francophone world, and Multicultural France and Representations of Women. These, and others, will be explored through film, text and other media. Literary texts are also studied.   

    Syllabus & Code
    Edexcel A Level 9FR0 French
  • Enrichment

    There is a long-standing Upper Shell exchange with the prestigious Lycée Janson de Sailly in Paris. It is an ideal opportunity to discover French culture, the schooling system and Paris first-hand. Staying with a host family and having an exchange partner allow for complete immersion in the language and culture, the value of which one can never overestimate. In the Sixth form (Year 12), pupils are strongly encouraged to spend time working in a francophone environment.  

    The Maurice de Pange Lecture Series is a platform for scholars to come and talk about their area of expertise. The French Society is entirely pupil-led and meets once a term. It also hosts debating events in French. Pupils have been extremely successful in the Joutes Oratoires debating competition and have regularly qualified for (and won) the National Finals at the Institut Français. Since 2019, Sixth Form (Year 12) pupils have been taking part in the Public Speaking Competition organised by Lycée français Charles de Gaulle. 

  • Staff

    * denotes Head of Department
    † denotes Housemaster

    Ms Sophia Bellaoui (SB)
    Dr Sébastien Blache (SGB) — Horizons and John Locke Coordinator
    Ms Angélique d’Autier-Andraud (ANA) — French Assistant
    Miss Rabiaa El Atrach (REA) — French Assistant
    Ms Gema Franco (GFC)  †
    Mrs Alex Griffiths ( AKG) — Head of German  *
    Mr Oliver Hopwood (OTWH) — Head of Modern Languages  *
    Mr Geran Jones (GKJ)
    Ms Clare Leech (CML) — Deputy Head (Academic)
    Mrs Lynne MacMahon (LDM)
    Mr Nick Massey (NPM) — Upper School RSHE and Wellbeing Lead; Head of Russian  *
    Mr Brian Smith (BJS)
    Dr John Witney (JCW) — Web Developer; Head of French  *
  • After Westminster

    A very high number of applicants each year take up places at top universities to read French or a subject combination involving French, whether it is with another modern language or with subjects as varied as Law, History or Philosophy. French is a fantastic asset for a graduate as it widens one’s opportunities and perfects one’s employability in fields as varied as journalism, diplomacy, business, research and science. French can be a crucial component in a US application as part of the liberal arts approach; it is also prized by highly competitive university courses, such as PPE and Law, which can favour an international outlook.

""There is nothing more gratifying than hearing former pupils say how much French has brought them, personally and professionally.""

— Dr Sébastien Blache

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