A PIONEERING project to teach primary pupils some of their lessons in Italian to boost language learning has had remarkable results.

Seventeen pupils from the junior school of St Aloysius' College, in Glasgow, recorded A passes in their Intermediate 1 Italian language exams - qualifications which are normally sat by pupils in the third year of secondary.

All the pupils were taught for some of the school week by a native Italian speaker funded by the Italian Consulate - as well as getting lessons in English.

The school said the pupils involved connected with language language far more readily because they developed an interest in the culture and history of Italy.

Dr Aileen Brady, head of the junior school, said she was delighted with the performance of the pupils and said bilingual education would continue, even though the project is now coming to an end.

She added: "As a school, we are incredibly proud of this outstanding achievement from our P7 pupils. It is inspiring to see such hard work and dedication of both the pupils and staff involved rewarded with such a fantastic set of results.

"When we introduced the bilingual education we simply wanted the children to have a love of Italian, but for the children to have achieved such outstanding results is wonderful.

"What we noticed was that the pupils who were exposed to bilingual education engaged far more with the language they were learning because they connected with the culture and history of Italy."

The project, launched in 2009, aimed to equip children with the skills and confidence to communicate fluently in Italian.

The children received an average of ten hours of Italian per week from a teacher chosen by the Italian Consulate and approved by St Aloysius’, which was founded by the Jesuits in 1859.

An evaluation by researchers from Glasgow University concluded: "The project appears to be very successful and the school should be proud of being the first

in Scotland to take the step of offering their pupils the opportunity to take part in bilingual partial immersion education in Italian.

"This model of partial immersion could be used as an effective model for other schools wishing to offer their children a similar programme of bilingual learning, as it could lend itself to other languages if desired.

"Test results show that the majority of children in the bilingual classes are performing at a level corresponding to or in advance of their chronological age."