Technology opens up a whole new world

5th February 2010 at 00:00
Pupils' lives are being "transformed" by a rapid upsurge in the popularity and quality of international education, an HMIE report finds

Several examples of outstanding practice are identified across the country at all age levels, from pre-school to upper secondary.

New technology is crucial to many of the most successful projects, and it is not necessarily the middle-class pupils on trips abroad who stand to gain most: "International education can provide a fresh way to help children and young people at risk of missing out on education to learn and achieve further."

In one nursery - like all schools in the report, it is not named - the international eTwinning programme had been used to link with a pre-school centre in Italy. Children exchanged soft toys, which went on imaginary adventures around each other's community. Their use of language improved after they shared photographs and stories with their Italian counterparts.

P7s in one school explored the rights and wrongs of war with children from other countries, including pupils at a school in Lebanon which shut due to political unrest.

The head said: "Our children are now more aware of world news and come to school telling teachers about what has been reported, genuinely concerned for the welfare of their virtual classmates."

One small three-class primary school used video conferencing to ask American children why they supported particular candidates during the 2008 presidential election. Their teacher said: "Children are spontaneously interested in world events now. Parents tell us, sometimes with some annoyance, that the children change their TV channel to watch the news, and can explain what's happening in Darfur, Iraq and Afghanistan, and why."

Senior chief inspector Graham Donaldson, in his foreword, said young people's lives were being "transformed" by such experiences.

HMIE previously published a report on international education in 2003, since when there has been "a real transformation" in the number of schools using international education.

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