Burnley is one of the most deprived areas in the UK and at Sir John Thursby Community College, the number of students eligible for Free School Meals is almost double the national average. Sadly, across the other Burnley schools only 14% of pupils achieve one Modern Foreign Language GCSE at grade C or above, yet some 45% of pupils do at Sir John Thursby Community College.

Behind these starkly differentiated statistics lies the inspirational work of Lindsay Bainbridge, Head of Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) at Sir John Thursby, and her staff. According to Lindsay, many of the children in Burnley lack an appreciation of the world around them, despite their diverse family backgrounds. Through the MFL curriculum, Lindsay’s department seeks not just to enthuse children to take a Modern Language to GCSE and beyond, but also to raise aspirations and open the children’s eyes to different cultures and societies, by engaging them through languages.

“The PTI really encouraged me to do something out of the ordinary that had real impact with the children. Even today the kids quote the Ghost Stories exercise as one of their favourite lessons.” 

– Lindsay Bainbridge, Head of Modern Foreign Languages, Sir John Thursby Community College, Burnley 

Further to inspiration at the PTI MFL Summer School last year, Lindsay introduced the ‘Ghost Stories’ Scheme of Work for her Year 8 class (12/13 year olds). Based around a hypothetical school trip to a haunted hotel on the border of France and Germany, the programme captured their imaginations and incorporated rigour by requiring the children to write their own stories in French and German. Over 6 weeks, as well as learning locational descriptors and a range of adjectives for their scary creatures, the children discussed cultural references as they developed their stories. In the final week the children dramatized their efforts, in collaboration with the Drama and Art departments.