London school pupils win language competition to land Paris trip

30 April 2012

On Friday 27 April, 12 language students from Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate School in Tower Hamlets, St Augustine’s School in Westminster and The Connaught School for Girls in Waltham Forest set off on a two-day trip to Paris having secured their place as the overall winners and runners-up of the Business Language Champions 2012 competition, an initiative from construction company Bouygues UK which aims to promote the importance of languages in the business world. 

The 2012 Business Language Champions programme launched in August 2011, inviting schools across London and the South East – where Bouygues UK predominantly operates – to participate in the scheme.  In January 2012, 11 teams consisting of four pupils each visited the London Headquarters of Bouygues UK to compete for their chance to go to Paris. 

Each team was tasked with delivering a presentation to a panel of Bouygues UK judges based on the theme ‘How my school can benefit the local community’, with the rules stating that at least the introduction and conclusion must be spoken in French.   Over a period of eight weeks, 11 teams were whittled down to three comprising two runners-up teams and a winning team, with the pupils from Bishop Challoner being named as the overall winners and the pupils from St Augustine’s School and The Connaught School for Girls coming runners-up.  All three teams landed themselves the Paris trip.

The prestigious prize kicks off with a tour of Challenger, the headquarters of Bouygues UK’s parent company Bouygues Construction in Versaille, on the outskirts of Paris. The spectacular complex, which caters for 3,200 of the Bouygues Group’s employees, includes an opportunity for the students to enjoy an authentic French lunch.  The remainder of the trip involves a mixture of organised and independent site seeing so that pupils can experience the beautiful French capital in their own way.

Connaught School for Girls team member, Javairia Qadir, said of her experience:

“Bouygues has inspired me to follow the career path of business.  I am excited about the trip as it will allow me to practise my French speaking skills”.

French and Spanish Teacher and Deputy Year Leader at Bishop Challoner School, Helen Harrison, said:

“After visiting Bouygues UK’s head offices it was apparent to the students that speaking a language is really useful in the work place and I believe they will look into continuing languages as a result of the competition.   The experience has undoubtedly benefitted all the students who took part in terms of their French speaking and presentation skills as well as boosting their confidence”.

St Augustine’s Work Related Learning Manager, Mr Ydri, said:

“These types of enrichment programmes can only add value to a school’s curriculum and make teaching and learning more enjoyable.  The trip to Paris will give students tangible opportunity to practise French as well as get inspired by professionals at Bouygues Construction’s headquarters – a very comprehensive learning experience indeed”.

Arnaud Bekaert, Deputy Managing Director at Bouygues UK, who was part of the judging panel for the 2012 Business Language Champions, said:

“Bouygues UK is part of a large and culturally diverse global group operating all over the world so we place huge value on speaking different languages and the career opportunities this creates. The Business Language Champions scheme is the ideal platform to nurture the importance of languages among young people and I have really enjoyed being part of this competition and witnessing the exceptionally high standard of French used throughout”.


 Notes to Editors:

The Business Language Champions programme was launched by The National Centre for Languages (CILT) four years ago in support of young language students and was run in partnership with Bouygues UK until 2010 when the funding allocated to the CILT programme expired.  With the Business Language Champions programme’s objectives strongly aligned to Bouygues UK’s culture and values, and the company’s wealth of experience in the education sector and its links with many of London’s boroughs firmly established, Bouygues UK decided to continue the scheme on its own for the second time. 

About Bouygues UK

Bouygues UK delivers innovative and sustainable construction across a wide range of sectors. Our biggest strength is our commitment to intelligent management throughout the entire life-cycle of each project –your guarantee of efficiency and excellence.  Our commitment to sustainable design and our passion for innovation is well recognised, and we are proud that our project teams consistently receive awards for ethical and considerate construction practices.