An international flavour

24th November 2006 at 00:00
Aru, Thessaloniki, Silistra, Hostun, Memmingen - not many children could tell you where in the world these places are. However, here at Frodsham C of E primary near Chester, in Cheshire, you can ask any child, even in key stage 1, to locate them on a map and tell you which country they are in.

This is thanks to the wide range of international activities which have taken place here, largely due to partnerships with schools across Europe and Africa. These have resulted in our 200-pupil primary winning a British Council International School Award.

The links have given pupils a real-life situation in which to get to know about children in other parts of the world. Funding from the British Council for a Comenius project (an initiative to provide opportunities for schools and colleges to introduce or strengthen the European dimension in their curriculum) allowed Frodsham to create links with schools in Bulgaria, Germany, Greece and France.

Teachers and teaching assistants have visited our partner schools, and the trips have proved to be excellent teaching resources. When our partner schools visited us, our children gained first-hand knowledge about life in European countries. Hearing a four-year-old ask a German visitor to play showed how the children welcomed them with open arms.

One of the most successful whole-school activities was the Passport to the World project. In this, every class is given a country to research for homework each half-term. At the end of the holiday the child brings in their work then has their passport stamped at "passport control". The work produced is simply amazing and ranges from posters to PowerPoint presentations. There is a display in the entrance hall which shows the country each class is studying.

We are finding that children, parents and teachers are learning more about the wider world. The activities involve time, effort and, in some cases, money - but, seeing the children's faces light up when, during their Monday morning assembly, an African band jumped out of the PE cupboard and started dancing and singing, it seemed worth all the effort.

The children worked with the band for the week, and experienced African culture first-hand while participating in workshops. The finale to the week was a spectacular performance in costume by the pupils and the band, which brought together children and parents with a feast of African cuisine.

The memories will be carried for a long time - and it is not only the children who will never forget eating caterpillars and chickens' feet Helen Coutts is international co-ordinator at Frodsham C of E Primary, near Chester

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