International Education

The International School Award

On 1st September 2017,  Crickhowell High School was re-accredited for the British Council International School Award.  This is our endorsement to our accreditation achieved in 2014.  The award is given to schools in recognition of their work in bringing the world into the classroom and in celebration of those that do exceptional work in international education.  Fostering an international dimension in the curriculum is at the heart of the British Council’s work with schools, so that young people gain the cultural understanding and skills they need for life and work in today’s world.

Crickhowell High School’s international work includes staff and students working in schools across Europe, China and South Africa, as well as welcoming European visitors to Crickhowell on a regular basis.  The work is lead by our International Co-Ordinator, Becky Thomas, within the Modern Foreign Languages Department.

Here’s what is being said:

“Congratulations on working so hard to co-ordinate such an impressive range of work as an International Co-ordinator!  You are a credit to the school and the wider community” (British Council Assessors).

“This award shows that a rural school like Crickhowell can provide its learners with a broad outlook.  It is great to see this outstanding work being recognized by the British Council” (Cllr. Myfanwy Alexander, Education Officer, Powys County Council).

“The school’s fantastic international work has rightfully earned it this prestigious award.  The International School Award is a great chance for schools to demonstrate the important work they’re doing.  Embedding an international dimension in children’s education ensures that they are truly global citizens and helps prepare them for successful lives and careers in an increasingly global economy” (Sir Ciarán Devane CEO of the British Council).

What Is the British Council’s International School Award?

It is a globally recognized accreditation for schools that enrich learning and improve teaching by guiding their international learning activities, from introducing international education into the curriculum to embedding it within the school’s culture.

International education enriches teaching and learning.  It introduces educators to new practices and perspectives, furthering their professional development and raising teaching standards.  It gives young people a window into different cultures and countries, helping them develop as responsible global citizens and preparing them for life and work in a global society.

Benefits of the International School Award?

The International School Award helps schools to benefit from all the opportunities that international education can offer by providing a framework to plan, evaluate and celebrate their international learning activities.

It is suitable for all schools, no matter their level of international work. It is goal-based and driven by a global network of people and projects that can support a school’s international activities.

The Award helps schools to:

  • enrich the curriculum and improve teaching by introducing and embedding international activities across the whole school
  • become part of a global network of international educators open to collaboration and shared learning opportunities
  • gain recognition for and promote their international work, making it more attractive to students, parents and teachers
  • inspire a love for languages and boost engagement in the subject by bringing the world into the classroom
  • access a global community of like-minded professionals opening up channels for sharing of best practises
  • develop teaching practices by adding an international twist to lessons, thereby inspiring students, boosting their motivation, and ultimately make the learning experience more exciting and relevant.  

Global Learning Programme Wales

Crickhowell High School is a Lead School in the Global Learning Programme Wales, an exciting opportunity to make a real difference in the teaching, learning and experience of Global Citizenship.

Since 2014, the programme has been building a network of schools in Wales committed to:

  • equipping their pupils with the knowledge and skills to make a positive contribution to a globalised world
  • supporting teachers to deliver effective teaching and learning about development and global issues at Key Stages 2 and 3 

The Global Learning Programme Wales supports schools by helping establish local networks of schools and providing the necessary high quality tools, resources and training to deliver the current curriculum.  The programme is also helping pave the way for the new curriculum in Wales, one of the statutory purposes of which is to develop children and young people as ethical and informed citizens of Wales and the world.’  There are now 50 Lead Schools located all over Wales.

Global Citizenship

Global Citizenship is at the core of Crickhowell High School’s international education programme and, in keeping with one of the aims of the Welsh Government’s Global Futures Plan, is focused on promoting and raising the profile of Modern Foreign Languages among our students.

What Is A Global Citizen?

A global citizen is someone who is aware of and understands the wider world – and their place it. They take an active role in their community, and work with others to make our planet more equal, fair and sustainable.  Global Citizenship is all about encouraging young people to develop the knowledge, skills and values they need to engage with the world. And it’s about the belief that we can all make a difference.

Education for global citizenship is not an additional subject – it’s a framework for learning and for reaching beyond school to the wider community, promoted in class through the curriculum or through new initiatives and activities.

China Bridge Project—From The Brecon Beacons to China’s Hunan Province

Becky Thomas with students from Ziangtan Jiangsheng Experimental School, Hunan Province, China in October 2015

The British Council’s China Bridge initiative offers a week’s professional development trip to China for UK head teachers and department heads of languages.

In a bid to bring a more international flavour to the classroom, Crickhowell High School offers its students access to a language and culture that, in Rebecca’s words, feels ‘much more far reaching than possibly some of the standard European languages you may learn at school…’

They teach their students Mandarin Chinese. 

All Year 7 students have one hour of Mandarin a week, with the option of continuing the subject to GSCE.  As well as language classes, students can attend an after school club, try their hand at calligraphy and, in the future, will also be able to whet their appetite for Chinese culture through a cookery club. 

To really bring their lessons and activities to life, however, Crickhowell was keen to partner with a school in China.  With this in mind, Becky applied for the China Bridge programme, a week-long professional development trip to China. 

As well as providing ample networking opportunities, the programme supports UK schools to establish such partnerships, and participants return to the UK newly inspired and with a fresh toolbox of ideas to help introduce and/or build on their school’s Chinese language and culture activities.  

Becky was awarded a place on the programme and made her very first trip to China in October 2015where she travelled to the town of Xiangtan, Hunan Province, to visit Crickhowell’s new partner school, Xiangtan Jiangsheng Experimental School. 

One of the first things that struck Becky was the school’s size.  Unlike Crickhowell, which has around 920 pupils aged 11 to 18, the expansive Xiangtan Jiangsheng boarding school has 7,000 students aged between 11 and 14.  Another staggering difference was the small amount of contact teaching time Chinese teachers had with their students.  ‘My International Coordinator counterpart taught a maximum of two hours per day’, she said.  ‘The Chinese government and Board of Education want teachers to perform at their best level, so they use their free time for admin and planning so that they’re ready to deliver excellent lessons. 

Becky found the visit inspiring on a number of levels, not least from witnessing the dedication to teaching and education she glimpsed in Xiangtan Jiangsheng’s staff and students.  ‘There is a huge emphasis on education in China’, she noted.  ‘Students are told that to better themselves they have to study hard and achieve well. Chinese students tend to have more responsibility for their own learning [than their UK counterparts]: they must clean and maintain their classroom and equipment and they tend not to miss any work or homework deadlines.’ 

Impressed by the high level of student participation in Xiangtan Jiangsheng’s English classes, Rebecca has now started to incorporate more paired and group work into her classes back at home, noting that ‘confidence in a language comes from communicating with one another’. 

Moreover, since partnering with Xiangtan Jiangsheng, Becky has found that her students appear ‘more open to international guests and look for opportunities to speak to people in other countries.’  After all, she continues, ‘having a partner school makes the learning all the more real.  Our students can see that there is an actual person at the end of the activity so now there is more opportunity to be engaged in it.’ 

Crickhowell hopes to continue building student and community interest around learning Mandarin, with a view to increasing uptake at GCSE level and, in the future, obtaining Confucius Classroom status. 

For Becky, the guidance and assistance provided by the British Council through the China Bridge programme was instrumental in supporting her to find creative ways to teach Chinese language and culture at Crickhowell and increase the quality of the Mandarin provision at the school.  She stressed, ‘without this opportunity I just wouldn’t have known how to go about building a link with another school and I would whole-heartedly encourage anyone thinking of participating to do so. ’ 

The benefits of taking part in the programme also extend beyond teaching, with Becky forging friendships and partnerships not only in terms of education; ‘It is very worthwhile for any teacher looking to widen their knowledge of education systems in other countries, or those hoping to gain a different perspective on education.  The world is there to be explored and education is a fantastic way in which to do that.’ 

Crickhowell High School Language Ambassadors

Here at Crickhowell High School, we have six Language Ambassadors, who actively promote languages in the school and organize events and competitions throughout the academic year. 

In February, they attended the ERW Pupil Language Ambassador Conference at Swansea University on behalf of the school.  This one day event brought together over 500 pupils and teachers from 44 schools across South West Wales to explore the benefits of language learning.

The conference was opened by Professor Iwan Davies, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Swansea University and included keynote sessions from Steve Davies, Welsh Government Director of Education, Eduardo Castaneda Bracho, Managing Director, Orlegi Media Relations, Betsan O’Connor, ERW MD, who delivered her speech in no less than five different languages!  The conference also fielded an interesting array of workshops, including a question and answer session with BBC News Broadcaster, Huw Edwards, amongst their speakers.

The principal aim of the conference was to train pupils in leadership skills to enable them to promote language learning in their schools and to increase their knowledge of the importance of languages for enhanced career opportunities.  This forms part of ERW’s campaign to support the Government’s Global Futures plan, which aims to increase modern foreign language uptake at all levels and sets the Bilingual plus 1 ambition for Wales.

As well as hearing from key figures in education and language learning, during the event pupils also had the chance to try taster sessions in Mandarin, Spanish and German, and to explore opportunities for language learners, such as studying STEM subjects with languages and multilingualism.

The conference was a resounding success leaving pupils and teachers alike inspired and energised to spread the word about the many benefits of multilingualism through clubs, campaigns, blogs and even Youtube Channels.