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International School Award
School No: 204
The British Council ISA - International School Award
Birchwood High School was awarded the prestigious International School Award, in recognition of the school's curriculum links with countries in North America, Africa, and Europe.
The award recognises good practice and professional development in curriculum-based international work in schools on a global scale. The award was received by Graham Handy and Jackie Rayment on behalf of the school. The award was presented by Anna Ford at a special reception in London.
Internationalism is not just about organising French exchanges; it is a matter of mapping out and delivering cross-curricular activities, encompassing all subjects and embedding them in the curriculum. For example, before our Year 9 students went to Kenya to visit the Lady Delamere School in 2005 and deliver much needed equipment, the students were taught about the African ecosystem in science, the geography of the country and learned the native language, Swahili.
Following a TIPD visit to Montreal by Sally Feather and myself in 2004, links were forged with the Lester B Pearson School Board. In May 2005 a year 10 group attended two of the LBP schools and then participated in a Leadership camp in the mountains. Lifelong friendships were forged as well as many new skills learned.
In 2006 a Canadian contingent returned to Birchwood, along with students from 5 different schools to sample the British system. A range of activities were followed, including lessons, teambuilding and, of course, sightseeing.
I am delighted to report that we are returning to Canada, in May 2007, for what is now our established bi-annual Leadership camp in Montreal. Year 10 students will stay with local families, attending school and visiting the sights of Ottawa and downtown Montreal , amongst other things. The highlight of the trip is the ‘leadership camp’, where our students will lead younger Canadians in varied activities, high in the mountains. It is a beautiful place and we will be housed in log cabins around a lake. Students will gain so much from this cultural exchange as well as lasting friendships.
For a number of years we have supported the Lady Delamere School in Kenya, sending stationery and delivering a cheque for vitally needed funds.
During the coming Easter break 2007, a small group of Year 10 students and staff will again be visiting Kenya's rift valley. We will be visiting a number of national parks and expect to see a very wide range of wildlife from rhinos to lions and eagles to flamingos.
Aside from the local flora and fauna, we will be visiting volcanoes, a local rural school and doing some very exciting walking in the bush. Other activities will include star watching, competitions and haggling for souvenirs!
It is a joint initiative between Youth Sport Trust and the British Council to create partnerships between schools in Africa and the UK. The programme will help to raise international awareness, break down stereotypes and improve the perceptions of young UK and African people of each other’s cultures. Young people will develop leadership skills, confidence and cultural awareness.
Birchwood High School has been linked to Seiphemelo Public Secondary School in Potchefstroom, which is in the North West Province of South Africa. Seiphemelo is a very successful school in the heart of a township which has recently been designated as the hub site for the country’s new Mass Participation Sports Programme.
Work between the two schools continued a step further at the beginning of November when the Principal and Link Teacher from Seiphemelo visited Birchwood to meet their counterparts and experience life in our school. They thoroughly enjoyed their visit and are looking forward to a return visit by Mr Ingate, Mr Revell and our two Partnership Young Ambassadors (Paul Brown and Emma Brookes, Year 12) in March. During this time the schools will complete the partnership plan for collaborative work over the next three years.
Following the visit by our Head Teacher to Kampala in 2005 we worked hard to maintain the link with the Uganda Martyrs School. As a result we received 2 staff and ten students in May 2005 for a ten day visit. This was the FIRST time Ugandan students had been allowed visas to exit Uganda! On their arrival Birchwood students and staff cooked them a traditional English breakfast, which broke the ice. They marvelled at our small classes (they are taught in classes of 100!), but were dismayed by some English students taking education for granted. On leaving they took six computers donated by Birchwood to help their school with ICT.
We are still communicating with our link school in Uganda and have Year 7 emailing their students. Further to this we plan a fact-finding mission next February, to further establish links and prepare for an ongoing and lasting project.
I can thoroughly recommend becoming a British Council International school. We have gone from strength to strength with our work abroad, giving so many students access to, and knowledge of, different cultures. It has brought about an international dimension to the teaching and learning at Birchwood and encouraged our students to become global citizens.