THE groundbreaking "global classroom" initiative, which had its origins in Anderson High in Shetland, will enter another phase next month when 75 sixth-year students from six countries and three continents descend on Lerwick.
The students will come from schools in South Africa, Japan, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic as guests of Anderson High for "10 days of study, debate, island-hopping and fun".
The eighth annual session of the global classroom aims to give the visitors a real taste of island life, starting with a reception on board the new North Sea ferry Hjaltland during the 12-hour overnight crossing from Aberdeen on June 8.
Most of the students will be meeting face to face for the first time, after months organising their exchange by e-mail and internet.
They will quickly be all at sea again after the opening day in Lerwick on June 9 as they take a two-day cruise to Bergen on another new ship operated by the Smyril Line linking Shetland with Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Faroe.
The students have agreed three themes: globalisation of the economy; attitudes to crime and punishment in different countries; and the values involved in citizenship.
The global classmates will form groups of 10 students and two staff, visiting some of the 100 Shetland islands - including Foula, Fair Isle, Skerries, Papa Stour, Whalsay, Yell, Fetlar and Unst.
Stewart Hay, Anderson High's assistant head, who started his school's ambitious international exchanges with the then communist Czechoslovakia in 1987, said: "The aim of these 'island adventures' is to take the global classroom right into the local community."
John MacBeath, professor of education at Cambridge University who has produced an evaluation of the initiative (TESS, January 3), hails it as "real learning" free from global pressures that are "competence-led, assessment-driven and inspection controlled".
More information can be found on the global classroom website, www.
globalclassroom.wz.cz, run by two former global classmates based in Zlin in the Czech Republic.