International School Award
Pupils who took part in the Spanish Department Immersion Weekend
We were delighted to receive news that we had been awarded our Full International School Status award in September. In order to achieve this we had to create a portfolio of evidence which demonstrated how our activities met the criteria required by the British Council. Many departments, pupils and staff were involved in the project not only from Belfast High but also from our partner schools and community links.
The DCSF ( The Department for Children, Schools and Families) International School Award is supported by education departments and devolved administrations across the UK. It is an accreditation scheme for curriculum-based international work in schools.
The ISA supports schools to develop the following:
An international ethos embedded throughout the school
A majority of pupils within the school impacted by and involved in international work
Collaborative curriculum-based work with a number of partner schools
Curriculum-based work across a range of subjects
Year round international activity
Involvement of the wider community
Evaluation from a variety of sources allowing you to improve your activities and your international programme.
The portfolio of evidence has to include at least seven projects but we had so many valuable and worthwhile activities taking place that we decided to group these together under the headings detailed below.
1.International Trade Fair in Germany
The aim of the project is for pupils to learn the importance of international trading for businesses which relates to their studies of A level Business Studies. The pupils will meet with other schools and sell their products at the trade fair. This will help them to develop an understanding of other markets. They will also be able to practise their German and will learn about the culture of that country. Planning will be carried out by the pupils in preparation for this and the staff will make a preparatory visit.
2.German Work Experience Exchange
The aim of the project is to allow students of German the opportunity to use their skills in a real working environment. They will spend five days with a host family while teaching English in a German Primary School. The students will have the opportunity to improve their work skills and their German. We will also host German students who will do their work experience in Primary Schools here. This links to the curriculum through the study of the education system and forms part of their Careers Education Programme. Pupils will also improve their Literacy Skills as they will be teaching English as a second language. At the same time they will learn about German culture and forge friendships with their partners.
3. Czech Cultural Assistant
The aim of the project is to enrich the learning experience of our pupils and those in our partner schools. Petra Zikova will spend six months with us and will also be working in another post-primary school and a school for the visually impaired. Petra will assist with classes and team teach,she will share her culture with the pupils and will run a Czech club. We will offer this to our Senior Citizens as well. One of the main curricular links will be the HE project where pupils will develop an awareness of the different cultures affecting our diet today. As part of this activity they will also develop organisational skills, presentation skills, and they will have the opportunity to improve their IT prowess.
4. The Language Club
The aim of the Languages Club is to help pupils learn to lead and work as a team. They do this by organising events which will raise awareness of foreign languages and be of interest to pupils. They aim to cover all costs and hopefully finish with a surplus which can be donated to a charity of the team’s choice. Pupils take on key roles within the team for which they wear a badge and they take turns to lead particular events. Pupils are encouraged to play to their strengths while also trying new things e.g. IT experts and shy pupils who take part in the plays. There are links to their curriculum studies such as Business Studies and an understanding of costing and marketing, drama through the plays, music through singing, ICT and Art through posters and displays and Citizenship as they explore cultural aspects of other countries. One of the first events this year was the Catalan Day. The aim here was for pupils to find out more about the Catalan language and culture. They took part in a workshop led by a teacher from the British Council in Barcelona and had a question and answer session with a Catalan girl of their age. They met with other students of A level Spanish and we followed up from the day with the articles provided.
5. Primary Schools and Language Village
The aim of the Primary Languages outreach was to equip pupils with some language learning skills; to develop an understanding of how language is strucutured and to develop confidence in speaking a foreign language. They will also find out about the culture of the Target Language country. Pupils will achieve this through poetry, singing, mimes and story telling using a mixture of whole class, pair and individual work. There were a total of eighteen partner Primary schools and one Special school for children with Moderate Learning Difficulties. Schools were offered six week courses in French, German, Spanish and Latin. Primary teachers remained present throughout to allow for upskilling and they were provided with workbooks to extend the learning. We also intend to run training days in August. The French element of the courses culminated in the Language Village day where the aim was for pupils to learn about the culture of Brittany in an authentic environment. Pupils and staff from our school decorated the Hall in the local university and the Primary School pupils took part in a variety of scenarios linked to other areas of the curriculum. Members of our Senior Citizen’s French club were also invited along with our other Specialist School partners and representatives from other institutions such as the Education Board. Pupils took part in the planning and helping on the day. They were taught how to make crepes in preparation, they learned to sing and dance, they made brochures for the Tourist Office and designed publicity materials.
6. Educational Visits
There have been a variety of educational visits this year. The aim of each is to allow pupils to learn more about the world during activities which are related to their classroom learning. These visits allow pupils to experience life in another country and to visit new places.
The P.E. Department organised three trips. The Rugby tour to Barcelona was organised to allow boys to improve their rugby skills while learning something about Spain and making new friends. The Ardeche visit allowed pupils to engage in physical activities which helped them develop leadership and communication skills. They also had to overcome their fears and face up to challenges. They were able to practise their French as all our pupils study French to GCSE. Pupils participating in the Ski trip were able to enjoy this sport in a new country. They learned about teamwork and were able to develop their confidence and self-esteem.
The Modern Languages Department organised three trips to enable pupils to improve their language skills for real and to learn about life in the Target Language country. There was an exchange between a small group of Form 5 pupils to Germany , ten L6 pupils toured Barcelona and half of Year 8 spent five days in Paris. Parents often report back to us that this is an amazing opportunity for their children and for many school provides them with their first chance to travel abroad.
The Classics Department organised a visit to Greece where the Primary aim was for pupils to study and visit Classical sites to support the study of Classical Civilisation and Greek topics in democracy, religion, architecture and games. To this end Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae and Corinth were all visited. Sites visited by the apostle Paul were also visited ( Aerpagus and Corinth). Site visits were used for A level and GCSE coursework.
The History Department arranged a visit to Germany to allow pupils to visit places studied in their History course. Another aim was to further develop links with our German partner school by joining in a shared lesson. To complete the project pupils and staff gave a presentation on Berlin at our Senior Citizen’s Club.
The Science Department organised a visit to Paris. Here the aim was to show pupils the use of Science in Industry. Pupils had the opportunity to use their French while participating in Science seminars.
7. Post-Primary Links
There were three main link activities with other post primary schools. The French/ ICT project lead on from last year. Here the aim was for pupils to improve their use of ICT while practising their French in a realistic environment. The final element of the project involved a Blitz Day at Glengormley when other subjects were also involved. As part of the project there were Sharing Best Practice sessions for staff.
Pupils in Sixth Form took part in a Model United Nations General Assembly. Our pupils in collaboration with others from the whole of Ireland researched and represented chosen countries from around the world. They took part in lobbying , speeches and voting on resolutions. The aim was for them to be able to apply their studies of Politics during the preparation and on the day while developing leadership and communication skills.
The Spanish Department joined with two other Spanish Departments to run an Immersion weekend for pupils. Here the aim was for pupils to be in an environment where Spanish was the sole language used. Two Spanish assistants and two Chilean students helped lead the activities which included seminars related to their A level studies, classes on Spanish and Chilean culture, a Treasure hunt in Spanish at the Folk museum and an enterprise team activity. We noted that fluency levels really improved and the staff were able to share resources. Students and staff from Queen’s University gave a seminar also.