Merton schools reach across oceans in 2008

Merton schools brought the wider world into the classroom this year with teachers finding out how staff in Canada, Japan and Venezuela do their jobs.

As part of a British Council-funded project, teachers from six primary schools from across the borough travelled to Caracas, Venezuela’s mountainous capital, to find out how staff in deprived areas of the Latin American city operate, share their teaching and leadership expertise and build bridges with different cultures and communities.

Earlier this month Merton Abbey Primary School played host to 26 Japanese teachers with staff from both countries looking at teaching from the perspective of different communities and cultures.

The British Council also arranged an exchange visit, funded by the DCSF Teachers’ International Professional Development (TIPD) programme, between Merton staff and teachers from Quebec. Merton teachers visited Quebec and the Canadian staff also crossed the Atlantic to see how teaching in Merton differs from Canada.

Merton Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Debbie Shears said: “These projects have provided fantastic opportunities for teaching staff at our schools to exchange knowledge and experience with teachers from other countries and find out about alternative educational practices.

“Our teachers brought home a number of good, practical examples of how they could improve things here from their visits to Canada and Venezuela as well as passing on their own useful tips to counterparts in these countries.

“Exchanges and experiences of this kind help us to further drive up educational standards in Merton whilst also forging vital cultural links with schools in other countries for the future.”

David Winters, headteacher at Lonesome Primary School, said: “Connecting classrooms in the UK and Venezuela has provided exciting opportunities for both curriculum and professional development. The links we have made will build bridges between cultures and communities and these international partnerships will enable our schools to address key domestic agendas.”

Merton Abbey primary school headteacher Stella Fry said: “Merton Abbey was chosen because we could offer good examples of teaching pupils about different traditions and cultures in Merton. We were incredibly proud to be asked to host the Japanese teachers. We all had a lot of teaching experiences we could share with each other and I am sure we all gained from the project.”

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Notes for editors

The Merton schools involved in the visit to Venezuela were Beecholme, Garden, Gorringe Park, Lonesome, Stanford and William Morris.

Schools involved in the Canadian exchange project included Aragon, Cranmer, Joseph Hood, Lonesome, Poplar, St John Fisher, St Thomas of Canterbury, Stanford and Wimbledon Park primary schools as well as Raynes Park High, Ricards Lodge High and Rutlish secondary schools. The project was possible thanks to the British Council’s Teachers International Professional Development (TIPD) programme organised and funded by the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF).

The Japanese teachers visited Merton as part of a programme run by the National Centre for Teachers’ Development and the Ministry of Education of Japan.

The British Council works in 110 countries worldwide to build intercultural understanding between the UK and other countries through the arts, education and training, science and technology, sport, good governance and human rights. Their income in 2007/08 was £565 million, of which grant-in-aid from the British government was £197m. For more information, please visit: http://www.britishcouncil.org