Nightingale Academy is in the top one per cent of schools nationally for its modern foreign languages results.
The school, in Edmonton, has 75 per cent of students with English as an additional language.
But, the diversity of the school is seen as its strength, with many students qualifying as interpreters to boost
their skills and to help the school and its community to operate.
Last summer’s GCSE results put the school among the country’s best for modern foreign languages for the
third year running, as confirmed in the latest league tables.
A total of 83 per cent of last year’s Year 11 students achieved A* to C grades in languages. In Spanish, a
record 92 per cent achieved A* to C, with 56 per cent achieving and A or A* grade and 100 per cent an A* to
Avni Aliaj, head of modern foreign and community languages, said: “Languages are a preferred GCSE option
at Nightingale and the overwhelming majority of students study a language at KS4, whether that be French,
Spanish or Turkish. 
“One of the main factors of our success is the fact we regard students’ EAL (English as Additional Language)
status as an asset, rather than a disadvantage. Most of our students are natural linguists, already fluent in
two or more languages. They have already created a language learning system in their heads, which gives
them an advantage when tackling yet another language. EAL students understand complex linguistic
concepts and develop fluency faster than their monolingual peers.
“Our job as language teachers is to simply recognise and unlock this potential. Of course, this wouldn't have been possible without consistently high quality teaching from a strong team of passionate linguists, high
expectations for all learners and the use of an array of dynamic teaching strategies and resources.”
With the diverse make-up of the school, students regularly take part in international projects, such as
Erasmus, with schools across Europe.
Each year, three or four trips take place when students are selected to spend one week at a time in target
language countries, such as France, Spain, Turkey or Poland.
In the last five years, more than 400 Nightingale students and staff have taken part in trips to European
countries as part of these projects.
Mr Aliaj said: “These visits are unique opportunities to take language learning well and truly out of the
classroom and to use it in real life situations.
“Most of the students from my Year 11 class, for example, who spent one week in Spain last year as part of
our current Erasmus+ project achieved either A or A* in their Spanish GCSE. By the end of their stay, some of
them became so confident and at ease with the use of Spanish that they volunteered to be interviewed by
local TV reporters in Spanish, which was certainly one of the proudest moments of my teaching career!”