Grace Christian Private School : Siyabuswa, South Africa
Through a strong link that has been developed with the support of World Share, in July 2018, 4 members of teaching staff and 21 pupils from Bury CE High School embarked upon a once in a lifetime expedition to South Africa with the primary focus of spending time with their partner school, Grace Christian Private School in Siyabuswa, South Africa. Also, as part of the expedition, pupils went on a 2 day safari in Kruger National Park and they also completed The Giants Cup trial through the southern Drakensburg mountains. Although the trek and the safari were amazing experiences, without any doubt at all, the five days spent with Bishop Hendrick and Grace School made the most impact on the hearts and minds of the Bury CE High School pupils, and on Grace’s learners too.
There are a myriad of social encounters, learning experiences and encouragements of faith that are too numerous to be covered in a short article about the trip, but there are definitely some moments that really do stand out. The greeting the pupils and staff received from Grace was both incredibly warm and also very humbling: it clearly showed how important the relationship between the schools is. During the morning worship, the cultural difference in praise was very noticeable to the Bury CE High School pupils as the use of song within their worship was simply beautiful and incredibly uplifting. The power and conviction of their faith was also encouraging for the pupils.
Following the welcome to the school, the pupils from Bury CE High School were very proactive in engaging with the learners and teachers from Grace in lots of different ways. One group of pupils led lessons for a number of days for Grade 5s with the support of their teachers, another group worked effectively as ‘teaching assistants’ in Grade 1 and Grade 2 and a further group organised sports and games activities for each class. Other pupils followed lessons with older pupils and learnt a lot about the South African curriculum whilst also being able to share their experiences of the British education system with them. Some of the pupils also had the privilege of visiting the church attached to Grace School for Sunday worship. All Bury CE High School pupils also led worship in the mornings for the Grace School pupils which emphasised how important the relationship between the schools was. Each evening, when reflecting on the day’s experiences, the pupils and staff were full of praise about the day they had.
Alongside sharing understanding about each other’s learning, curriculum and education, the most powerful aspect of the visit was the enduring friendships that began to develop between both sets of pupils. At break times, during lunch and after school, both sets of pupils mixed with each other socially and learned incredible amounts about each other’s cultural background and they realised that although thousands of miles separate them, they have lots of fundamental similarities, so much so that many shared contact details with each other and remain in touch now. As the pupils were leaving, the flood of tears (of both sets of pupils and staff) really did show how effective and powerful the trip was. Since the return of pupils back home, many of the pupils have reflected on their experiences and are seeking to engage with supporting Grace further.
Sibirsky School : Chișinău, Moldova
Sibirksy School is a Russian medium school located in the capital of Moldova, Chișinău. The school was founded in 1944 and since 1996 has been named after an academic called Konstantin Sergeyevich Sibirsky. The school has approximately 700 students aged 6 – 18 and 72 teachers.
Reverend Watson and Mrs Kell visited in April 2016. They met with staff and students and were guests at the school’s talent show. In April 2017 Reverend Watson visited along with Mr Daniel-Sam. As well as developing our link with the school they had the opportunity to spend some time in pupils’ lessons teaching PHSCE.
Since the last visit Bury CE High School pupils have had the chance to speak with Sibirsky School pupils over Skype video link as part of our Moldova Deeper Learning Day.
St Denys’ High School : Murree, Pakistan
Bury Church of England High school has been developing a link with a high school in Pakistan, St Denys’ High school, Murree, since 2014. In October 2014 a member of staff visited the school, which is based in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range, to initiate the partnership and since then two further visits by school staff have taken place; one visit in October 2016 involved three teachers from Bury Church who were able to observe lessons and lead staff training, as well as gaining for themselves a number of helpful strategies for developing teaching at home. St Denys is a girls’ school which has been attacked by arsonists twice and which has worked hard through suffering to maintain a vibrant and committed learning community.
We were thrilled therefore when the first visit by members of St Denys to Bury was arranged. The school’s headteacher, Mrs Shazia Jibran, and two other teaching staff, as well as the director of Education for the Diocese of Lahore, Col.(Ret’d) Azim Ilyas, joined by nine pupils from the school, stayed with us in Bury for nine nights. The pupils, eight of whom were of the Muslim faith, stayed with Bury Church pupils for the week and the host families who were all volunteers looked after them with immense generosity, feeding them, dropping them off and picking them up at all times of day and night and entertaining them throughout the time they were here.
The St Denys’ pupils attended lessons and led presentations in assembly, including memorably a dance highlighting traditional dress and celebrations from Pakistan’s different regions. They came to our annual celebration of the school’s founding, the Commemoration Service, watched Sports Day, had a Food and Nutrition lesson in which they learned to cook apple crumble, and played badminton and table tennis in our Sports Hall. There was also a packed programme of visits, including ones to the cinema, ten pin bowling, York, the Lake District, Bury (where the mayor hosted the party), Manchester (including the Pakistan Consulate hosted by the Consul), Liverpool’s Speke Hall to watch a Shakespearean play, and Alton Towers. It was a visit that changed all of us. We learned so much and we made the world seem just a little smaller and more open. We look forward to welcoming a party from St Denys again in two or three years, to organising a return visit next year and most of all to renewing and maintaining the friendships that have been formed.
Collège Sainte-Marie : Riom, France
We have a successful link which was established in 2012 with Collège Sainte-Marie in Riom, Auvergne, France. This link consists of 3 different areas:
- Our year 7 students all have penfriends whom they write to once a term. On Deeper Learning Days they also have a full day when they are introduced to the geography of Riom, Catholicism and some “spécialités Auvergnates!”
- We have an exchange for year 9 pupils. The French group visits us for a week in March/ April, and we go over to France for a week in May/ June.
- Year 11 students can be involved in an immersion programme. They have the opportunity to host AS students for 2 weeks.
Our Year 9 pupils get the chance to experience a week abroad, living with French hosts and becoming a part of the local community. They learn about the local culture and history (exploring the area of Auvergne in France) and boost their language skills (being a part of the school community, taking part in lessons).
During our exchange trip to France we visit Eaux de Volvic (this is the source of Volvic Water), Vulcania (a volcanic themed park), make a journey to the top of the volcano – Panoramique des Dômes, visit an interactive museum about the history of Michelin tyres, which are produced in this region of France, and we explore the town of Riom through a treasure hunt. The pupils also do a lot of different activities with their host families so they will have to be prepared to try new things! Our children receive a booklet with a glossary which they find very useful during their stay in France. There are no barriers to taking part in the Exchange (except for the financial contribution!); pupils and their parents are informed about the school exchange via letters. They then have a chance to put their child forward to take part in the trip.
Students who are keen to embark on this international adventure have the opportunity to improve their spoken French through this practical immersion. They will experience the history and culture of the other country and will understand the diversity of different cultural and community perspectives. We are aiming to help them enhance their interest in global learning and to broaden their general knowledge.
Through the visit we want to enhance the self-esteem and self-confidence of our pupils so that they can face challenges outside their comfort zone. In the long term, we want to give them the opportunity to experience living overseas, as the knowledge of another culture and language obtained abroad is looked upon very favourably by potential employers