Europeans flock to learn despite Pisa blues

10th December 2010 at 00:00
Visitors say they were impressed by the classroom practice they saw

While Wales's education system engages in a bout of soul searching after the Pisa results, educationalists can take some comfort from the lasting impression their schools have left on some of their European counterparts.

More than 50 heads, teachers and officials from across the continent have visited Wales to learn about the country's community-focused schools.

Charity ContinYou Cymru hosted the week-long exchange, which comprised two groups from the Czech Republic and a further mixed-nation group.

Speaking to TES Cymru before they left, many of the visitors said they had been impressed by the classroom practice they had seen and inspired by the new ideas they had come across.

Christiane Polowykow, head of a 600-pupil secondary in Strasbourg, France, said: "I was very surprised to see so much co-ordination and so many integrated services for children. Teachers in France just teach - they are not so concerned with wellbeing. The relationship between teachers and students is very different here."

Alain Mallet, head of a secondary school in Nancy, France, said: "People in France think schools are like temples and there's a very big respect.

"They think schools know everything and that means a lot of schools are not accessible to the public or the community in the way they are here."

But Petr Cernikovsky, an official from the ministry of education in the Czech Republic, said adapting such developments to some countries would need a "change of culture."

"The schools we have seen are so impressive, but for us to do these things we would have to see a mind shift in many people inside and outside of school," he said.

Ms Polowykow added: "The community schools approach is transferable, but it should take into account local context and the needs of different communities."

  • Original headline: Europeans flock to learn from Wales despite Pisa blues

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