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Travel really does broaden the mind

GLASGOW celebrated a year of international education last week, the culmination of 12 months in which more than 2,000 pupils have travelled to 11 countries from Ireland to Australia.

Schools featured an International Day, and there was a high-profile awards ceremony with a concert for 27 schools, plus a Think International seminar to encourage more schools to become involved.

Sybil Simpson, head of Knightswood Secondary, told the seminar that Glasgow pupils should feel privileged to be Scots and that the experiences of pupils who travel abroad could help to get over this message.

She said: "There are children all over the world who are eager for education because they know it will help them into a better life but the opportunity for an effective education is not on offer for every child in these countries.

"It is on offer in Glasgow and hearing that message from their own age group may go a little way to helping some of our pupils appreciate the opportunities they have on their doorstep."

The school aims to deliver International Citizenship through a series of one day conferences for all year groups at which pupils who have travelled abroad will be prominent in getting over the message to others that Glasgow offers many opportunities that they must not ignore or take for granted.

Ms Simpson added: "No matter how interesting materials and methods are, continually hammering on at children in a PSE class is not the only way to change attitudes. We need to give them a break and do something different to make them sit up and listen."

In the past two years Knightswood pupils have been to Borneo, Botswana and Australia.

St Timothy's primary in the city's East End, which has links with schools in France, Ireland, Russia, Spain and Finland through the EU's Comenius project and is officially designated a European School, integrates international ideas into the curriculum at all stages.

Laura McLean, headteacher, said these were "day-to-day bread and butter in the school", providing a vehicle for learning and teaching and increasing pupils' motivation and parental involvement.

Callum Couston, a fourth-year pupil at Shawlands Academy, designated by the Scottish Executive as a specialist international school, was among pupils who created a ceramic mural that was then taken to a secondary school in Drammen in Norway, also as part of the Comenius project.

"Initially we didn't realise how big the project was, but when we went to Drammen to unveil the mural in all its glory, I felt extremely proud and privileged to have been involved," he told The TESS.

In Richmond Park School, physically disabled children are taking to the dance floor to extend their international outlook. Physical education teacher Eleanor McKinlay travelled to Poland during her holidays to establish links with a mainstream school that works closely with disabled pupils. With two other schools in Finland and Gran Canaria, they are now working on a project in which the four schools will learn and perform dances from each of the four countries.

Edna Paterson, one of only two full-time dedicated local authority international education officers in Scotland, said the week had been the culmination of the council's international education strategy: "Four years ago we had 12 schools displaying best practice. We now have 31, plus a further 80 who have expressed an interest in becoming involved.

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