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Multicultural schools praised

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:09 01 August 2010

THE multicultural syllabus at two Norfolk schools has been given a big thumbs-up by the international cultural relations body of Britain.

Woodton Primary School and its partner school Ellingham have passed the intermediate stage of the International Schools Award, which is run by the British Council.

THE multicultural syllabus at two Norfolk schools has been given a big thumbs-up by the international cultural relations body of Britain.

Woodton Primary School and its partner school Ellingham have passed the intermediate stage of the International Schools Award, which is run by the British Council.

Their annual “multicultural week,” their foreign teachers, and their strong links with French schools saw them skip the “basic” stage of the award and leap to the “intermediate” stage, with the schools looking to reach the top “full” award next year.

The British Council aims to nurture greater trust and understanding between the UK and different countries and cultures. The International Schools Award aims to celebrate the international dimension of teaching in schools.

For about six years Woodton and Ellingham schools have held an annual multicultural week where the children learn about a foreign culture.

In the past they have looked at areas such as South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and China, and last November they studied France and Italy.

“It's not so much about learning about the geography,” said headteacher Pauline McGowan. “We try to focus on the culture of the country. We look at food, music, dance. The different classes learn about different aspects and then at the end we have a festival where they sing and eat the food they've cooked during the week.

“The children really enjoy it, it's something really different.”

The school also gives the children a taste of other languages, such as Spanish and Italian, in their studies throughout the year.

And they are currently employing a French teacher from a school in Toulouse, who teaches the children at both schools for two days a week.

They also received the award for their healthy partnerships with two small village schools in the Gers region of France.

The pupils send each other letters and pictures of themselves, and at Christmas the schools set up a video conference where the pupils could see and talk to each other.

Mrs McGowan said that she hoped the schools could meet up in the future.

“Nearly all our children are white British, not like in schools in cities where there are a lot of different cultures,” she said. “Children in South Norfolk often haven't been abroad and to get letters from children in another country is amazing.”

The International Schools Award has three phases: basic, intermediate and full. “I applied originally for the basic but they said our schools do too much and they gave us the intermediate award straight away,” explained Mrs McGowan.

The teachers will now prepare a teaching programme for next year, and if the British Council judge it to have been implemented well, the schools will get the full award.

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