- 11/11/11 - Somerset Enters into Partnership with China
Somerset students have been given an exciting opportunity to develop their understanding of other cultures and gain a fresh insight into the world around them through a new area partnership with China.
An official link to promote educational cooperation was recently established between the county of Somerset and the city of Yueyang in Hunan province and an invitation was made to local Headteachers and Principals to visit China for nine days during October as part of the formal inauguration of this partnership. Five secondary schools, two primary schools, a special school and an FE college (listed below) were involved and each was partnered with a similar establishment in Yueyang. Representing a cross-section of education in Somerset, the impact of this initiative will therefore be felt by young people of all ages in the county.
- Avalon School, Street - Yueyang Special School
- Ansford Academy, Castle Cary - Yueyang No 9 Middle School
- Crispin School, Street - Yueyang Foreign Languages School
- Frome Community College - Yueyang No 1 High School
- Meare Village Primary School - The Primary School Attached to Hunan Vocational College for Nationalities
- St. John's CofE VC Infants' School, Glastonbury - The Changling Infants' School of Children's Dreams
- St Dunstan's School, Glastonbury - Yueyang No 12 Middle School
- Sexey's School, Bruton - Yueyang No 2 Middle School
- Strode College, Street - Central South Technical College
As well as learning first-hand about the Chinese education system, there was the chance to spend time in the partner schools meeting staff and students, participating in classroom activities and discussing the projects to be developed collaboratively. By the end of these few
days, there was universal agreement that the visit had been a success and recognition that the personal and professional relationships created would lead to significant benefits to the staff and students in both countries.
There is great enthusiasm on all sides to ensure that partnership activity is integrated into all areas of the curriculum as well as a firm conviction that direct contact between the two countries can help increase motivation, broaden horizons and prepare young people for life in the globalised economy. Amongst the collaborative projects already agreed upon are joint investigations of environmental sustainability and common themes for personal and social education. The primary partners are keen to focus on the use of creativity in the development of young learners, whilst hospitality and engineering may provide vocational contexts for the colleges and expertise in supporting students with particular needs is to be shared between the special schools.
As well as a reciprocal visit by Headteachers and Principals from Yueyang, it is the intention to foster new approaches in the classroom through the exchange of teachers in areas such as Science and Maths. The opportunity for students not only to engage with their counterparts by using technology, but also to visit the other country, is also a partnership objective, as is support for language learning. With the possible participation of trained teachers from China, several of the English partners are now seriously considering offering Mandarin Chinese as part of the curriculum from September 2012.
The Somerset-Yueyang area partnership came about as the result of a successful application submitted to the British Council earlier in the year and forms part of the ever-increasing cooperation in education between the UK and Chinese governments. Despite requests coming from all over the UK, Somerset was chosen to become one of only five areas awarded with a link. At the same time, Hanban (the British Council's equivalent in China) selected Yueyang, a city of 5.5 million in south central China, to be Somerset's partner authority. This important industrial centre is pleasantly situated near the Yangtze River on the banks of the country's largest lake and the eagerness of schools there to engage in collaborative activity has made it a popular choice with its Somerset partners. There is every hope that in time the partnership will extend beyond the initial nine participants to include other Somerset schools.