AN Otley school has been officially launched as a language centre.

Prince Henry's Grammar School received language college status last year.

Students are already learning Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and Italian as well as French and German.

And primary schools and adult learners are also benefiting from language lessons provided by the school.

On Friday Euro MP David Bowe dropped in at the Farnley Lane school to give it its official language college launch and to see what progress has already been made.

Head teacher John Steel said it was a very exciting development not just for the school but for the whole of the community.

"It is a welcome boost for the school, its students and the local community. It has given us targets that are stretching and worth achieving.

"It introduces an international dimension which has not previously existed in our curriculum."

The school's special status means for at least the next three years it will receive additional funding to help with the teaching of foreign languages.

Some £100,000 has already been raised by the school and its supporters in the local business community and the sum matched by the Department for Education.

A new language laboratory has been built with more than 30 multi-media computers featuring the latest software.

Penny Lewis, deputy head teacher, said: "This allows students to progress as a whole class, in groups or individually.

"In addition, Promethan digital electronic whiteboards have been installed which will allow teachers to draw on information through the computer network, satellite and the internet to deliver multimedia lessons which will enhance the learning opportunities of students in foreign languages as well as in other curricular areas."

Modern language teaching at the school has expanded with Russian and Latin for beginners due to start in the summer.

Its special status means it has to promote the development of languages and literacy both in the school and the wider community.

Older primary school pupils in Otley are given a Spanish lesson every week from a Prince Henry's teacher and evening classes take place for adult learners.

Also, every primary school will get a literacy package and the town's three infant schools have already received similar software.

The school expects to shortly develop a video link with Copperfields College, Leeds, which uses the same network and software.

And students from Otley now attend the Leeds Mandarin Chinese School in Little London - made possible through the commitment of members of the Leeds Chinese community.