Manchester to Nanjing By Angela Goodman
Four years ago Moorside Primary School was a typically average school in an urban area four miles from Manchester City Centre. Our demographic was in line with National Average in many ways, though our percentage of learners with English as an Additional Language was very low. Our curriculum relied on purchased resources with relatively few real-life experiences. The picture at Moorside has changed dramatically in a short space of time. Between May 2013 and June 2015 students from Moorside Primary School will have visited partner schools in Greece, Poland, Spain, Turkey and China. Our Chinese link began in October 2012 when our Headteacher, Pierre Coiffait, and our Deputy Headteacher, Ian Wilson, attended an International Cooperative in China to promote the speaking of Chinese. Links were forged with Youfu West Street Primary School in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, Eastern China. So far two groups of staff and pupils have visited our partner school, with another group due to travel in March 2015. Months of planning goes into arranging a school trip to China, starting with selecting the children. We have limited our international trips to Year 5 – old enough to cope with the journey and the time away, with another year left at school for us all to benefit on their return. All Year 5 children are welcome to apply. Parents contribute towards the cost of the flights, with the cost of hosting being taken by our partner school in Nanjing. Selecting children is a challenge! Resilience, confidence and independence are key. Children are asked to submit an application form explaining what they feel they will learn from the trip, as well as what the challenges may be. All children are then interviewed by a member of the School Governing Body before the final eight are chosen. In preparation for the trip, all children in Year 5 have weekly Chinese lessons. Many opportunities are also taken to learn about China and our partner school in different subjects throughout the year. Our curriculum has been enhanced in this way, making comparisons more real. Purpose has also been given to many aspects of the pupils writing and computing.
During the trip the staff and students stay in the boarding facilities at Youfu. They attend a maths lesson at the school, as well as traditional paper cutting and calligraphy. Children are also expected to share a presentation about themselves with a class at Youfu. As well as sharing in the life of the school, children are also able to experience local historical and cultural features. The most eye-opening aspect of the trip for me was being able to visit an area of China little used to European visitors. The children went from spearing food with one chopstick at the beginning of the trip to managing a whole meal by the end of the trip! We did not, however, get used to being the centre of attention when walking around the city. Whenever we paused for a group photograph people would crowd around to take their own shot! Working with a foreign currency and trying their hand at bartering was also a new experience for the children. On the pupils’ return, they lead a whole school assembly to which we invite parents. Their maturity and relationships develop over the period of the trip, as well as their outlook on the world around them. The feedback on return has been incredibly positive from both staff and children. Speaking to the parent of a child from our first trip, she felt that the positive impact on her child, Faye, will influence her for many years. In discussion about possible family holidays, Faye now wants to visit places the family have never considered before so that they can explore new cultures. Ewan Goodman, one of the children selected for the March 2015 trip said, “I think the trip will be life-changing! I’m looking forward to finding out about life in China.” The chance to visit the real China, beyond the tourist route, is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one that the staff and students involved will treasure forever. The benefits to the individuals and the school are huge and wide-ranging – we hope to continue to foster this link for many years to come.
Angela Goodman @goodman_ang is International Coordinator at Moorside Primary School, Droylsden, Manchester. I have been in post for four years. In this time I have developed links with schools in South Africa, Ethiopia, Namibia, Greece, Spain, Poland, Turkey and Argentina and I was part of the team which visited Nanjing in 2014. Our international work has led to us being awarded British Council/HSBC Link2Learn Primary School of the year in 2014. To share our work we are involved in the Global Learning Programme as an Expert Centre. 24 UKED Magazine
February issue of UKED Magazine - China/Mandarin theme