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International - Africa to Italy and back

International education at an East Lothian school with strong links to South Africa and Italy has been praised by HMIE, as it continues to single out good practice in schools throughout the country.

Longniddry Primary established a relationship with Oranje-Diamant School, in Hopetown, in the Northern Cape, after a visit by teacher Amanda Forgie. Teachers from both schools share their expertise, and two Longniddry staff travelled to Hopetown this month. The relationship with children from a township gives Scottish pupils a sense of life in more trying circumstances, and fundraising is carried out for the Link charity.

"It's enormous for the children," said headteacher Catherine Jack. "They understand Scotland's place in the world and in society, and they can understand and respect others perhaps less fortunate than themselves."

Longniddry is one of a number of schools in its area, including Preston Lodge High in Prestonpans, to have built a relationship with Barga Primaria in Italy. Pupils have travelled to Barga and regaled their Italian hosts with songs such as The Dark Island, accompanied by pipers from the Tuscan town's large expat Scottish community and - to their surprise and excitement - by Italian pupils.

The two sets of pupils successfully managed to communicate even without a common language. Contact, however, has been made with the Italian consulate in Edinburgh and the Italian government has agreed to sponsor teaching of their language to East Lothian pupils.

A story project has allowed the youngest pupils to feel involved. A story bounces back and forth between Italy and Scotland, with youngsters in one country thinking up part of the narrative before sending it back across for the next instalment.

HMIE has a special section on its website highlighting areas of good practice.

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