Staff and pupils at Holywell School, Cranfield, welcomed visitors visitors from Shandong University Primary School in China.
The party of 24 pupils aged 11 arrived with the headteacher and three teachers. Coming from a primary school of 2,700 pupils, in a city of over 6 million and a province of nearly 100 million to a school in the middle of the countryside, and population of around 5,000 presented a great contrast.
Mr Pan, their headteacher, wanted his children to get to know English pupils and also experience lots of lessons. Fortunately Holywell currently has three Mandarin speaking pupils. The school also benefitted from great support given by Cranfield University Chinese
Society – providing 5 translators (from a team of 10) on site throughout the visit. As a result, visitors were able to work in small groups each with at least one translator.
For a very different curriculum, Holywell made use of its year 8 young leaders with lessons prepped ahead of time with their teachers. Everything was new and the visitors, after looking extremely nervous as they arrived Monday morning, became at home and responsive to everything offered for them to tackle.
Working with ceramics and creating their own piece of pottery with ceramic decoration to take back home
A range of Drama related exercises created lots of laughter and fun
Sophisticated Problem-solving Maths – very different from the functional Maths that they specialise in so successfully back home
Creating a video of the visit – filming and editing – with the year 8 film-making specialists
Being taught and playing a range of new sports was also a challenge and one they much enjoyed.
The visitors were also very keen to ‘go for a hike’, given that they spend their lives in the centre of a massive city which can often suffer from badly polluted air. The hike took in the great and developing nature reserve – ‘The Thrift’ just south of the school and Cranfield. Of course it had to rain mid-way through the walk, but the visitors were all well equipped with umbrellas – set up for the rest of their tour in occasionally rainy England. So the walk strode on and everyone was happy and content.
Mr Pan was delighted with the visit, with the inter-school friendship now established, with
the way the children from both schools had been able to work together across the language
barrier. He hopes that one day Holywell will come to China to visit them.
Mr Haddon said he was thrilled with this first experience for Holywell of a full international exchange that engaged pupils here so much. The level of curiosity and enquiry from Holywell pupils (as well as welcome) during the days when Shandong Primary were in school showed just how much interest this event had created. The generosity of gifts and mementoes from visitors was overwhelming for everyone. Equally tremendous was the support of the Cranfield University Chinese society who helped make everyone at ease and engaged with
all the activities with great liveliness. Holywell is already looking to how this project can move forward next year,