Language students live in the real world

14th October 2005 at 01:00

TESHSBC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF THE YEAR WINNER - PRIZE POUNDS 5,000

When students arrive at Hove Park school and sixth form, they just have to glance at the clocks on the wall to know the time in Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, Beijing and Sydney. The display speaks volumes about the south coast school's belief in the value of international education.

"I wanted to show that we were linked to all these areas and bring languages to life," said headteacher Tim Barclay who joined the 1,738-pupil school in East Sussex when it became a specialist language college in 2002.

Hove Park has links with 11 countries across every continent: Ghana, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, the Czech republic, Greece, South Africa, Russia, Chile and the Philippines.

With 45 international curriculum projects, either underway or commencing this year, nearly all the staff have been involved in creating an international ethos.

The catalyst was a talk by Penny Krucker, head of international education at Gloucestershire county council. "She's totally buzzy. Suddenly all these teachers came out of the woodwork with language skills and global contacts," Mr Barclay said.

To channel staff enthusiasm and initiate projects, he created the post of international director - the first in Brighton and Hove education authority. In this role, Charmian Hartley, head of modern foreign languages, has enabled students from each year group to experience different cultures. This year has seen trips to India and Thailand.

Upcoming collaborations with French schools include a fashion show, a play and a banquet.

Ms Hartley has recently added health and social care and maths to the 14-strong list of departments involved in international work. She gleaned the idea for the "maths through the art of Escher" project at a Comenius seminar in Germany. "If the teachers are excited they don't see it as extra work," she said.

The presence of foreign students in the sixth form and Comenius language assistants has helped to create an international community within the school. Ms Hartley intends to spend the prize money on a new international student of the year award.

Judge Kate Griffin, president elect of the International Confederation of Principals, said Hove Park "have created a momentum that's having the most tremendous effect within the school".

RUNNER-UP - PRIZE POUNDS 1,500

The wants, rights and needs of children in other parts of the world have been the focus of Bentley St Paul's links with Belgium, Poland and Germany, as well as projects on art and literature in the life of European children.

Children in the Brentwood primary have been creating a CD of Christmas songs, making calendars containing artwork from different schools and developing Powerpoint presentations on famous composers. "We are trying to spread the impact across the curriculum so all the children can access the programme. That's why we're taking the football team to Belgium," says headteacher Dr Duncan Ramsey.

Visits, email exchanges and multimedia work have enhanced pupils' ICT and language skills. All year groups are learning about inequality thanks to a link with a Kenyan school.

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