Teaching Urdu at Walthamstow School for Girls, London: An example of the social role of languages in a multicultural school

Author(s): European Schoolnet
Institution/Organisation: Walthamstow School for Girls, London (UK)


Walthamstow School for Girls is a community comprehensive school in London serving a diverse, inner-city area with significant socio-economic deprivation. 45% of the school intake come from the Asian community served by the school and many of the others are of Caribbean and African origins. Languages spoken at home include Urdu, Panjabi, Gujerati and Sylheti. The school is well equipped with ICT with an interactive white board in almost every classroom. All pupils in the first year intake are obliged to follow a taster course in French, Spanish and Urdu to ensure that the pupils make an informed choice of the language to study in later years. Learning Urdu also helps to create a bond and sense of community among the pupils and to demystify Islam. Gujarati is also taught as a later option. The bonding initiated by this initiative clearly contributes to the happy atmosphere of the school which is very popular with local parents and in most years is heavily over-subscribed.  Examination results in Urdu, French and Spanish are of a consistently high standard, well above the national average. A government report describes the school as outstanding.

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