Welsh roots in Europe

14th October 2005 at 01:00
TESHSBC European school link award Winner - Prize pound;2,500

Ysgol Y Dderi, a primary on the outskirts of Llangybi, a little village in the heart of west Wales' countryside, is the hub of a European network that includes schools in Denmark, Norway, Italy, Elba, Latvia, the Republic of Ireland, Austria, Finland and Romania.

In 1997, the school set up "Roots and Wings", under the EU-funded Comenius programme, to develop links between its seven partners.

Aerona Walker, the school's international co-ordinator, said: "We are at the heart of a truly worldwide educational experience."

Headteacher Ann Davies leads an enthusiastic staff of 130. Already bilingual - Welsh and English are taught in tandem - an Italian Comenius language assistant has helped add knowledge of a third language. All staff have visited at least one partner school and some have taken part in self-funded exchange trips to Denmark with 10 and 11-year-olds.

One project involved studying the native plants in a square kilometre and how they got there, and sending packets of seeds to partner schools to create international gardens in each one.

When Mrs Davies spent a fortnight at the Norwegian school, she returned impressed by the children's school council. A similar body now flourishes at her school.

RUNNER-UP - PRIZE POUNDS 1,000

Hope high school, in Salford, in association with its feeder primaries, has forged ties with partners in Denmark and Germany and used them to tackle complex themes such as citizenship and social inclusion.

This involved 14 and 15-year-olds researching population shifts resulting from immigration and examining the social history of their area. It also involved exchange visits by pupils, as well as email and internet contacts.

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